Sainsbury’s has become the first UK supermarket to start selling edible insects in a bid to capitalise on the growing trend towards sustainable protein-packed food sources.

With consumer attitudes towards eating insects changing, Smokey BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets are now on sale in 250 Sainsbury’s stores, the retailer said.

“Crunchy in texture with a rich smoky flavour,” the roasted crickets from Eat Grub can be eaten alone as a snack or used as a garnish, said Rachel Eyre, head of future brands at Sainsbury’s.

Nearly 10% of UK shoppers have already tried edible insects, of which 57% said they enjoyed them, new research by Sainsbury’s and Eat Grub shows.

One in eight shoppers claim they haven’t yet tried edible insects simply because they haven’t had the chance or don’t know where to buy them, showing accessibility has been a significant barrier until now, Eyre added.

More than 40% of shoppers also said they would be willing to try insects in the future, with 25% citing sustainability as an alternative protein source as the most important benefit, followed by health and nutritional benefits at 15%.

One in seven shoppers also predicts that eating insects will become mainstream in the next 10 years or earlier and of those aged 18-24, 55% would be open to eating insects.

“Insect snacks should no longer be seen as a gimmick or something for a dare, and it’s clear that consumers are increasingly keen to explore this new sustainable protein source,” Eyre added.

Insects offer strong nutritional benefits – gram for gram, dried crickets contain more protein than beef, chicken and pork – with 100g containing 68g of protein, in comparison to just 31g of protein in beef.

Eat Grub co-founder Shami Radia said it was time that the West got on the insect bandwagon. “Currently Insects are eaten and enjoyed by two billion people worldwide. We’re on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn’t be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient,” he added.

12g bags of Smokey BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets have an rrp of £1.50.