First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dror Tamir : We are doing well. During quarantine we developed daily routine that included morning workout and we are keeping that routine even after getting back to school and work.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Hargol
Dror Tamir : I was born in a kibbutz and as a young boy my grandparents used to tell me stories about the locust swarms that destroyed their crops in the 1950s. While they were trying to fight the locust they saw Yemenite and Moroccan Jews coming to the fields to collect tons of locust. So I learned that locust are food for many people around the globe and that they are kosher.
I’ve been a serial entrepreneur for food and nutrition for the past 15 years. When I tackled the global protein challenge I knew instantly that locust are an amazing solution.
How does your company innovate?
Dror Tamir : Grasshoppers are the most widely eaten insect in the world (about 2.5 billion people consume insects as part of their diet). The supply is based on collection in the wild. Hargol FoodTech is the first in the world to farm locust on commercial scale. Hargol technology edge include climate controlled environment that enable growing grasshoppers year-round at a high and constant quality, accelerated incubation of the eggs increasing number of life cycles from 1 to 10 per year and innovative cage infrastructure for vertical farming that increases by ten times the production per square.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Dror Tamir : COVID-19 imposed high risk on our business – we farm animals that require daily care. Having our employees quarantined could mean the end of the business. However we managed to be recognized as an essential business by government and continue our operations. I can say we even exceeded production goals at that period.
Another way in which COVID-19 did hurt us was the planned launch of our new line of products in the US market. Due to the situation and mainly due to some of our suppliers freezing their activity and production forced us to postpone the launch.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Dror Tamir : Running a business and mainly running a startup is about making difficult choices and learning. COVID-19 was another challenge along the way and a very good lesson (and it still is). The number one lesson for us was about the importance of communication between us and our stakeholders: employees, suppliers, customers and shareholders. Keeping open communication channels, sharing with them our challenges and listening to them led to a mutual effort to not only save the business but also promote it to a new level.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future ?
Dror Tamir : I believe that stress and anxiety are a good mean to develop. It’s not that I’m asking for more stress and anxiety in my personal life or in Hargol’s business, it is just that under stress and anxiety innovative solutions rise and lead the business forward.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dror Tamir : We see cricket farmers as our competitors. But grasshoppers have their qualities such as a superior nutrient density, neutral taste and flavor. Global demand alongside with our innovative technology give us an edge over the competition. And we are continuously working on improving our technology to extend that lead.
Your final thoughts
Dror Tamir : The greatest challenge of edible insects industry is the “yuck” factor. COVID-19 may impact the way consumers are looking at their plates. They should be looking for healthier and more sustainable food alternatives and insects are positioned to be that food.
Since grasshoppers (locust) have a theological story as they appear as Kosher food in both the Bible and The New Testament, we launched a line of products offering consumers the opportunity to enjoy theological nutrition that is healthier and more sustainable.
Hargol website: http://www.hargol.com/
Our store Biblical Protein: https://biblicalprotein.com/