Last Updated on December 9, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
MBA Students at Cornell College Embrace Sustainable Protein Source with Edible Insect Products
In a recent Grand Challenges Project course at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, MBA students delved into critical issues of zero hunger, food access, and food waste. Led by team leader Julian Galarza, one group of students explored an unconventional yet promising business opportunity: edible insect products as both a sustainable protein source and a viable market.
During the course, the team had the privilege of working with Joseph Yoon, the owner of Brooklyn Bugs, Inc., who served as their client. The collaboration between the team and Chef Yoon resulted in the development of innovative product ideas that incorporated insects such as mealworms, crickets, and black ants into a variety of snacks, including pizza bites, tortilla chips, and avocado dishes.
Galarza, an influential figure in guiding the students towards achieving their objectives and personal growth, pushed the team to shift their focus from a wide-ranging research approach to a more consumer-centric one. Recognizing the importance of understanding consumer needs and preferences, the team created a survey to collect valuable data that would support their recommendations.
Throughout the project, the students received guidance from a coaching program initiated in 2023. Aimed at nurturing new ideas and providing support, the program has successfully trained 27 coaches. However, the decisions and execution ultimately remained the responsibility of the undergraduate teams.
Galarza’s team, after careful analysis, made two key recommendations to Yoon. Firstly, they suggested that he partner with a meal kit delivery service to expand the reach of his edible insect products. Additionally, they proposed that he develop a frozen pizza with a cricket-powder crust, a concept that had not initially occurred to Yoon.
Excited by the team’s suggestions, Yoon plans to pursue both recommendations. He expressed his gratitude for their fresh perspective and their ability to identify untapped market potential. Yoon’s enthusiasm for integrating insects into the pizza sector is an exciting development towards diversifying food offerings and improving sustainability.
The students, proud of their contributions to Yoon’s business endeavors, hope to look back on the project as a stepping stone towards making a tangible impact in the food industry. With their innovative thinking and dedication to sustainability, these MBA students are undoubtedly leaving a lasting mark on the world of business.