We have recently changed format of how we sell crickets. This has brought many questions from our customers, so I decided to provide more information on a topic with the hope that many of questions you are asking will be answered here.
Prepacked crickets are sold almost exclusively in that format in Western Canada, so this is not a new concept and it has been thoroughly tested. Benefits of such a format has been recognized by both stores and customers. Drawing from the success there, we decided to look into this form and implement it here. Ontario is a place, that has resisted this format the longest, but benefits are great when you actually consider them.
Crickets mortality in cricket bins are significant. As a customer , you do not see them, because as part of our protocol, they are being removed daily. When you account for them, however, they represent significant percentage, that affects you at the end of the day in the form of spoilage, that is a part of overall product price.
This is a common practice for all perishable items like fresh produce, fresh cut flowers and food. Keeping spoilage low, helps keeping prices down.
Why mortality of crickets is high in the bulk bins, you may ask?
There are several reasons.
Constant disturbance of crickets trying to hide in between egg crates. Every time customer asks for crickets (and that can be several times in single hour) crickets are shaken off and collected for sale. Many get damaged in the process. They also need to hide again and are less likely to venture out in search of food or moisture. That leads to them being starved and weakened , despite food being available for them to eat.
In contrast, prepacked crickets are never disturbed, as they are sitting unmolested on the shelf.
Their proximity to food is much better and they actually feed on the food, so when you feed them to your animals, they are not starved empty husks.
Availability of food affects your feeder's condition. In bulk bin, food is present in the corner where you can see only small percentage of insects feeding. Rest is stressed out from constant dislodging from safety and just returns to egg crates and hunkers there. In small container, food is available in close proximity and allows all crickets to access it when needed.
Water is provided in the form of gel in an open bulk container and piece of moist carrot in a small cup. Crickets utilize water contained in food for their drinking needs, so tests showed, carrot is sufficient source of moisture for short period of time they are kept in the cup. Balance needs to be kept to not introduce too much moisture into prepacked container, as excessive moisture leads to mold formation and bacteria explosion that can kill all crickets in a very short time.
If you keep crickets at home and want to provide full feeding and watering regimen, you need to transfer crickets from the cup to critter keeper and not increase moisture in the cup that your crickets arrived in.
Density in the pre-packed containers.
Crickets naturally congregate in crevices and they are not stressed out by close proximity to each other. The biggest issue is uncontrolled increase of humidity and prolonged keep in the container. Humidity when mixed with feces of crickets that are kept in container too long, can produce a blooming of bacteria and formation of ammonia. This can be fatal to insects, that are kept too long in the dirty container, especially, if excess moisture is added to the cup.
Density in prepacked container is much smaller than in bulk container, where 1000 crickets is packed and shipped by the factor of 5 on a 100 lot cup of 3/4 size crickets and up to factor of 10 on 1/2 inch crickets.
Having crickets available in the prepacked form provides a better feeding insect at the end of the day. It allows feeding to be spread out over several days as opposed to dumping crickets from plastic bag all at once to terrarium. If you are keeping crickets longer than for single feeding, you already likely have separate container to keep them fed and watered. You are transferring them to that container anyway, so how they arrive does not affect what you do when you get home, but helps you start with healthier cricket in the first place.
Cost of prepacked cricket to store is much higher than bulk cricket. There is a cup, labour of packing, food, lid and cost of transportation on much higher volume of a product. Yet, we decided to switch to this model. So why we decided to do it?
Losses in prepackaged product are infinitely smaller, crickets can be kept by customer longer, longevity of feeder is extended and feeder insect represents better nutritional value.
Cricket grower puts more than nominal amount of crickets into a cup. Despite few dead crickets you may see on the bottom, you should have no less than what you are paying for. Those overcounts should be between 15-30%. Should you find this not being a case, please return cup to store and speak to staff. Inspect your cup upon selection from shelf for quantity of crickets present and excess of debris on the bottom of a cup. You always have option to ask staff to transfer content of the cup to plastic bag, if that is your preference.
Amount of losses associated with bulk keeping and dispensation is very high. Transferring to pre-packaged model helped to keep those losses to minimum and allowed to offer value added pre-packaged product without increasing price to all but smallest quantity of 25 lot.
This model, once put to test in Alberta, BC and Saskatchewan, has led to being the dominant if not the only form in all of independent (no chain) stores.
I hope the information contained here sheds some light as to why we decided to change the model and what benefits come from using it.