This week, it’s an all-Hill Mill Buzz with a jelly bean chaser.

But first up, edible ants.

Entosense’s new catalog for Sysco with dishes by by Chef Joseph Yoon of Brooklyn Bugs on the cover. Submitted photo

Brother and sister Bill and Susan Broadbent and their company Entosense heard last summer that food distribution giant Sysco was looking for edible insects.

They reached out, and now they’re on the menu.

Grocers and restaurants can buy a pound or more of eight different offerings, including gourmet black ants, Manchurian scorpions, grasshoppers and bee pollen.

“In the past, when a restaurant wanted to buy our bugs, they had to call the health inspector, we had to send our (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) registration number, all that sort of stuff,” said Bill Broadbent. “Now, they don’t have to — we’re approved by Sysco, so they can just buy direct. It opens up a lot of doors for us; otherwise, people had to go to a special effort to buy our product.”

Samples are going out this week to 65 Sysco sales reps who expressed interest, most of them in the Southwest.

With so many restaurants closed right now over COVID-19, “we’re sending them enough samples for (chefs) to play around in their home kitchen,” he said. “Hopefully they’re thinking about new menu items.”

All of the insects are coming from outside suppliers. Entosense shut down its Hill Mill cricket farm last year after deciding it needed to either be a lot larger or they should focus just on sales, Broadbent said.

They may revisit the farm as a separate business in the future.

The five-year-old company’s been on a good growth trajectory, he said.

“We’ve been doing really well on the general wholesale, zoos and museums we do real well with,” Broadbent said. “That’s going to be almost one-half. We’re hoping food service takes up about 40% and 10% is online, where online a couple years ago was 80% of our sales.”

In other Hill Mill news

The mill also has one recent expansion and one new face.

PAMCO Machinery recently leased 5,175 square feet and Allen Manufacturing Inc. 2,888 square feet, according to Mainebiz.

Cheri Bonawitz and Karen Rich from Malone Commercial Brokers brokered both leases.

PAMCO, which repairs and sells shoemaking machines, had been in the PAMCO Mill and moved over to Auburn, Bonawitz said.

“He’s looking to keep his business going and he just signed a five-year lease,” she said. “He’s moving his location to the mill.”

Allen Manufacturing, which already has more than 12,000 square feet in the mill, needed additional storage space for a light assembly project, President David Allen said.

Bonawitz said the Hill Mill has at least 150,000 square feet more available for lease.

“It will be interesting to see what type of activity we get in the future with these new demands,” she said, noting all of the companies in the news who are switching production up to help fight the COVID-19 spread. “If anybody is looking for that type of space for manufacturing for any of that equipment . . . we’d be happy to have them look at the space.”

Really?

CandyStore.com loves a good list, and according to the site, Maine loves a root beer jelly bean.

That’s based on 10 years of sales and survey of more than 10,000 people ranking jelly bean popularity all over the country.

Running second and third in Maine: Cherry and black licorice.

No one else in the country had root beer in the No. 1 spot, which just says . . . something.

It’s so Maine to stand out.

Quick hits about business comings, goings and happenings. Have a Buzzable tip? Contact staff writer Kathryn Skelton at 689-2844 or [email protected]


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