Case Studies: Aspire Food Group

Food insecurity results from poor access to nutrition, not a lack of food.

That is clear from the fact that many people living in urban slums suffer from obesity and malnutrition at the same time. Realizing that the solution is to make nutritious food affordable and easily accessible, six students from McGill University’s Desautel Business School entered the prestigious Hult Prize competition, which in 2013 focused on food insecurity. The students — Mohammed Ashour, Gabriel Mott, Shobhita Soor, Jesse Pearlstein and Zev Thompson, competing as Aspire Food Group – developed a plan to introduce cricket farming as a recipe for food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Where does Julia Shanks Food Consulting fit into all this? We worked with Aspire to develop snack chip recipes that incorporate cricket flour.

JSFC Services

  • Recipe Development

The Challenge

While cricket flour is abundantly available, no extant recipes provided the tasty, easily-prepared, culturally relevant and highly nutritious results Aspire was looking for. They needed to develop snacks and the recipes to mass-produce them with minimal resources and technology.

The Process

Julia Shanks tested a series of recipes with Aspire, ranking them on taste, ease of preparation, and cultural relevance. We came up with three finalists: a poppadum (a crisp Indian-inspired flatbread), caramel popcorn, and potato and corn chips. Aspire decided to go with the poppadum, and used it in their presentation to the award committee, including President Bill Clinton.

The Outcome

Using the poppadum recipe we developed together, the Aspire group won the 2013 Hult Prize, receiving $1 million in start-up funding for their nascent business.

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Julia speaks about small business accounting, business planning and sustainability. Recent conferences include Slow Money’s National Gathering and The National Young Farmers’ Conference.

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