By JAN M. OLSEN
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - One of Finland's largest food companies is selling what it claims to be a first: insect bread.
Markus Hellstrom, head of the Fazer group's bakery division, said Thursday that one loaf contains about 70 dried house crickets, ground into powder and added to the flour. The crickets represent 3 percent of the bread's weight, Hellstrom said.
"Finns are known to be willing to try new things," he said, and according to a survey commissioned by Fazer "good taste, freshness" were among the main criteria for bread.
According to recent surveys of the Nordic countries, "Finns have the most positive attitudes toward insects," said Juhani Sibakov, head of Fazer Bakery Finland's innovation department.
"We made crunchy dough to enhance taste," he said. The result was "delicious and nutritious," he said, adding that the Fazer Sirkkaleipa (Finnish for Fazer Cricket Bread) "is a good source of protein and insects also contain good fatty acids, calcium, iron and vitamin B12."
"Mankind needs new and sustainable sources of nutrition," Sibakov said in a statement. Hellstrom noted that Finnish legislation was changed on Nov. 1 to allow the sale of insects as food.
The first batch of cricket breads will be sold in major Finnish cities Friday. The company said there is not enough cricket flour available for now to support sales nationwide but the aim is to have the bread available in 47 bakeries in Finland in a subsequent round of sales.
In Switzerland, supermarket chain Coop began selling burgers and balls made from insects in September. Insects can also be found on supermarket shelves in Belgium, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands.
The U.N.'s Food and Agricultural Organization has promoted insects as a source of human food, saying they are healthy and high in protein and minerals. The agency says many types of insects produce less greenhouse gases and ammonia than most livestock - such as methane-spewing cattle - and require less land and money to cultivate.