February 26, 2016

Interview: Jack Armstrong, Armstrong’s Crickets

Armstrong’s Cricket Farm has been selling crickets for more than 60 years, and currently has approximately 70 million crickets between its two farms.


Pet Insight had the chance to talk to Jack Armstrong, president of Armstrong’s Cricket Farm, about the company’s line of crickets.


Pet Insight: Can you describe your line of crickets in a nutshell?


Jack Armstrong: The crickets we produce are the brown crickets; that was the original cricket that my grandfather started back in the mid 1940s. He found that to be the best for fish bait. Right off the bat he was selling them to people that had birds and monkeys. That species, the coloration on it made it good for fishing, and it has a softer skin. That was a little better than crickets or roaches. Over the years we’ve perfected them. 


PI: What are some of the benefits of that your crickets provide for customers? Retailers?


J.A. Benefits to retailers are that you’ve got a cricket that has no exposure to poisons, one that is clean. You don’t have to worry about if you feed insects to reptiles. If you pick them insects up in your yard, they may have some poisons or residuals that could harm. Our feed formulas are strict, no poisons. We have very few feed mills we can buy feed from. We have 0 percent tolerance, so we have to go to special mills making our feed. That way our cricket becomes a pure food. Our feed, we have vitamins and protein packs for crickets that make them a healthier cricket, so we can get them to market. Shops know they can get a consistent cricket that we can provide 52 weeks a year. We do ship direct to many pet stores. The pet stores get the crickets in there and they can distribute to people with reptiles, so we have to partner up with the retail stores so they can worry about marketing.


PI: What challenges have you had to overcome with the line?


J.A. We have to partner up with mills with strict quality controls. The drought situation has driven the cost of feed up significantly. If you get corn as the base, and you’re facing corn shortages, if they substitute too much soybeans or something in there, you’re going to have poor quality feeds. 

        Other challenges you face, is that crickets need to be alive. When you’re 70 degrees down in the south, where our two farms are located (in Georgia and Louisiana), if it’s 70 degrees down here and 30 up in the Dakotas and Minnesota, and you pack them to survive 30 degrees, they’ll burn up because it’s too hot. 


PI: How many crickets do you have on hand right now?


J.A. Right now a little over 70 million crickets.


PI: What channels of distribution are the crickets available through? Specifically, which distributors carry them?


J.A. We work both ways – distributors and direct to stores. A few chain stores, the big chain stores usually break it up to several cricket-goers. A lot of individual stores we’re shipping to. You take Canada. Canada, it’s not as easy to go directly to the shops, so in Canada it’s all through distribution networks. In US, it’s easier to go direct to the shops, but we have a big network of distributors. It’s easier to get large amount of crickets to the distributors, and they can distribute to several different places.


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