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(Bloomberg) -- Swiss shoppers will soon get the chance to buy burger patties and meatballs made out of beetle larvae as supermarket chain Coop tests consumers’ appetite for less-common alternatives to beef and pork.

The mealworm burger patties, which also contain rice, carrots and spices such as oregano and chili, will cost 8.95 francs ($9.24) for a pack of two, spokesman Urs Meier said by phone. The bug balls will sell at the same price for a pack of 10, and both products hit shelves of select stores on Aug. 21.

“These products are perfectly suited for those who want to learn about the culinary diversity of insects,” Coop procurement manager Silvio Baselgia said in a statement. Coop suggests eating the insect balls in pita bread with fresh vegetables and smothered in yogurt sauce.

Bugs have taken a long time to make it on mainstream menus even though United Nations food experts have argued that they can satisfy meat cravings without all the damage to rain forests and depletion of water. Edible insects have a long culinary tradition in African and Asian cultures, though their high-grade animal protein is only available in a few locations in Europe, such as the U.K. restaurant Grub Kitchen.

Mealworms, which are beetle larvae, have a mild flavor that becomes slightly nutty when roasted, according to insect-eating blog Bugible.com.

The burgers will cost about twice the price of Coop’s Naturplan Bio organic beef burgers, and almost five times as much as the least expensive burgers in its online store.

The products will first be available at stores in Zurich, Basel, Bern, Winterthur, Lugano, Lausanne and Geneva, plus online. The retailer said it plans to offer a wider selection of edible insects at more stores by year-end. 

Coop has been working with Swiss startup Essento to prepare the meat substitutes for three years, and the launch date was shifted back from May due to organizational issues, according to Meier. Essento breeds mealworms in Belgium, but intends to produce in Switzerland going forward, Meier said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Richard Weiss in Frankfurt at rweiss5@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Eric Pfanner at epfanner1@bloomberg.net, Thomas Mulier, Paul Jarvis

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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