Who had any idea the creepy things crawling around your kitchen could be so profitable? Wang Fuming, cockroach-breeder extraordinaire, knew. The 43 year-old is China’s—and probably the world’s—largest cockroach producer, operating 6 farms with an estimated 10 million crawling, creeping, scurrying, money-making roaches.
It turns out that, aside from being a great source of protein, the bugs are becoming increasingly popular in Chinese medicine, and as well as the “secret ingredient” in many cosmetic products. Over 100 farms already exist in China, and more are popping up all the time. The low start-up cost is attractive and, since the little buggers can thrive anywhere, maintenance costs are much lower than if one were raising, say, non-icky animals.
“I thought about raising pigs, but with traditional farming, the profit margins are very low. With cockroaches you can invest 20 yuan and get back 150,” Wang Fuming said. In fact, the going rate for a pound of cockroaches is anywhere from $20 to $89 USD, up from $2 in 2010. In other words, the recession has been created a roach-bubble.
Considering the feelings most people hold for the periplaneta Americana or the American Cockroach, (the big brown one) the business is kept relatively secret. The practice has gotten quite a bit of media attention recently though, when last August one million cockroaches escaped from a farm in the Jiangsu province.
“We try to keep a low profile,” says Liu Yusheng, head of the Shandong Insect Industry Associaiton. “The government is tacitly allowing us to do what we do, but if it draws too much attention, or if the cockroach farms are going into residential areas, there could be trouble.”
Understandably, a cockroach farm in the neighborhood might decrease property value ever-so-slightly, but if your bone tuberculosis is giving you trouble, you might want to give the little critters a chance.
By Lauren Holdcroft
[Image via Flickr]