AT first glance, these nutritional bars look like your typical healthy snack.

But there is one key difference.

As well as ingredients such as oats, cocoa and dates, HOP bars are made with insects - specifically, protein from crickets. 

The start-up business is launching a crowdfunding campaign next month to bring its insect-based products to a wider audience.

Matthew Mundroina from Brighton is one of three ambitious graduates behind the company, who want to change the way we get our protein.

The Argus: Geoff, Ash and Matthew, the founders of HOPGeoff, Ash and Matthew, the founders of HOP

Along with Geoffrey Knott and Ash Fallahi, Matthew founded HOP in 2018 after successfully pitching for funding at the University of Surrey, where the three had studied.

They produced their first nutritional bars with edible insect protein at the end of 2019 and last year the bars proved so popular they could not keep up with demand.

Matthew said: “When we first came up with the idea, a business based on edible insects was pretty novel - despite most of the Eastern world having done so for a long time.

“We were inspired to create HOP bars because of sustainability and the environmental benefits. Insects produce about one per cent of the greenhouse gases compared with beef, for example.

“They’re also naturally much better for you as they are high in amino acids and vitamins as well.

“As no one has really tasted crickets before and the bar has a mixture of other ingredients such as oats, flour and dates, you can’t really tell it’s there.

The Argus: The HOP chocolate protein barsThe HOP chocolate protein bars

“What we’ve found is that young people and kids don’t mind trying a bar, while sometimes older generations seem to be a bit more suspicious of it. 

"But I really think there is going to be a cultural shift – it’s just getting over that initial ‘disgust’ factor.”

HOP bars were stocked at online retailers including Musclefood, Scouts Store and Amazon Launchpad last year, as well as climbing centres and cycling shops and sports supplements store Dolphin Fitness in Shoreham.

Matthew said: “All our bars sold out everywhere last year. We had so much demand it was impossible to produce more during coronavirus.

“The Kickstarter we’re launching next month is so we can bring our production in-house. Currently we’re producing the bars in Europe but if we can make them in the UK we’d have a lot more quality control.

“At the moment we get the cricket powder from Vietnam but we have our own facility we’re setting up in London Bridge.

“The crickets are roasted, a little bit like coffee beans. All the feedback has been really positive so far – everyone thinks it tastes like a normal chocolate protein bar.”

The Argus: Matthew MundroinaMatthew Mundroina

Matthew believes insect protein will play a major part in the future of nutrition.

He said: “It should do as we have a growing population, and when you look at how meat production harms our environment there has to be alternatives.

"One way is to produce cultured lab-grown meat and the other is to look for other sources of protein.

“Our ambition is to be a health foods company and make more products using insect protein. There are thousands of insects which can help people with different medical needs.”

To find out more about HOP and support the Kickstarter campaign, which launches on February 18, visit