Home 5 Ag Stories Iowa cricket farmer expands business, adapts to change (Part Two)

Iowa cricket farmer expands business, adapts to change (Part Two)

Photo courtesy of Gym-N-Eat Crickets

Shelby Smith, of Gym-N-Eat Crickets, relies heavily on farmers’ markets and other in-person events to market her insect-based protein selections. The coronavirus pandemic, however, shifted how she markets these products.

In 2019, Smith purchased building space for processing. The State of Iowa then declared Smith a licensed food processor, allowing her to sell products beyond local farmers’ markets.

Smith says, “I’m thankful for the groundwork I laid in 2019.” She gives credit to her grower network and processing facility, two improvements which helped in her transition to online sales during the global health pandemic.

“Without the ability to be online, I don’t think this business could have continued. If this had happened in 2019, I would be dead in the water. I’m thankful for the opportunity those have presented,” Smith says.

Smith now connects with customers online, through social media platforms. She admits, “Social media has been an integral part of my business.”

“Facebook and Instagram have been important for my business as I have pivoted to a more online presence. Running competitions, getting feedback for new products, and all sorts of things (have made it) easy to stay connected to customers. Hopefully with customers sharing posts and things like that, I’ll gain new customers or at least get people somewhat intrigued.”

Smith encourages other business owners to use social media as a way to connect with consumers and share their story.

“Find your community. Building that community, be consistent, and tell your story. No story is too small to tell. Less than two-percent of the U.S. population farms, but everybody eats up to three meals a day. Make that connection from food to plate, especially in a setting where our audience is more captive than ever before,” Smith says.

To learn more about Gym-N-Eat Crickets, visit https://www.gymneatcrickets.com/ or search Gym-N-Eat Crickets on Facebook and Instagram.