Sustainable Dog Food Startup Neo Bites Wants Crickets to Replace Kibble – Built In Austin

neo bites
Image: Neo Bites

An Austin native just launched the first crickets-for-canines food business in the city. 

In July, Wesley Cooper launched Neo Bites, a sustainable dog food and treat brand that relies on crickets for protein. As more people adopt crickets as a source of sustainable protein in their own diets, Cooper said he expects the trend to touch dog food too. 

“Eighty percent of countries in the world eat insects,” Cooper told Built In. “In some cultures, they’re delicacies. So I would say that the Western world is really missing out on a unique culinary experience.”

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Cooper came up with the idea for Neo Bites after working in the consumer product good industry in New York City. He was always fascinated by environmental causes, he said, and was astounded by the amount of waste associated with the industry — from single-use plastics to the amount of methane contributed by factory farming. He wanted to start a company that would create a better future.

After learning that crickets were one of the most sustainable sources of animal protein, using far less land, water and feed than traditional proteins like cattle, “it was basically an itch I couldn’t not scratch,” Cooper said. 

He bought a few packages of cricket powder online, started experimenting with recipes and, in February, launched a Kickstarter campaign to try and make his homemade cricket