Majority see insects as future food, 82% “not prepared to include them in their diet” yet, research shows
20 Jan 2023 --- Fifty-eight percent of people believe that insect consumption could become an alternative and sustainable source of protein and part of regular diets. However, research from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya),Spain also finds that more than four out of five surveyed individuals are not prepared to make the step to add insects to their usual diets, for now.
Eighty six percent of those surveyed revealed they have never eaten insects.
The primary reason for not eating insects is disgust (38%), followed by lack of custom (15%), doubts around food safety (9%) and cultural reasons (6%).
Half of the respondents believe that having information on insects’ potential as a sustainable food would encourage their consumption, with only 38% of those polled responding that they don’t think insect consumption could become a practice in the future.
“Comparing the production of insects with that of beef, greenhouse gasses are cut by 95% and energy consumption by 62%,” note the authors.
Insect preparation is important in attracting consumers. According to the study, “70% of respondents held that a preparation that did not reveal the insects’ natural shape would make them easier to consume.”
The most acceptable formats for insects to be incorporated into foods are flour (23%), followed by biscuits (6%) and bars (5.8%).
Seven out of 10 consumers prefer preparations where the insect’s appearance can’t be seen.
The research polled through social media surveyed 1,034 participants, of which 68.9% were women. Over representing women in the study might have led to results more unfavorable toward insect eating acceptance.
“Consistent with other studies, male respondents in this study appeared to have a lower degree of neophobia [fear of trying new things] and were more willing to cook insects and to introduce them into the usual diet than female respondents were,” explains the research.
The study also finds that the most receptive age range toward insects are people between 40 and 59.
“According to the results obtained from the survey, insects were mostly consumed during a trip to countries where there was a tradition of eating them. While such an experience may be an initial opportunity to try the product and then to incorporate it if the experience is positive,” explains the research.
Buzz about insects
As mealworms and crickets edge closer to EU plates, following the latest round of approvals in 2022, the commercialization of alternative products containing protein-packed insects is on the horizon in Europe.
The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, the insect umbrella organization backing the burgeoning industry, insect products could be available this year, unlocking a whole ranch of nutritional, sustainable food.
Meanwhile, in the UK, insect-consumption advocate Woven, has successfully lobbied the UK parliament to accept the inherent safety and value of insects, which resulted in an agreement that potentially paves the way for insect protein to become a primary industry.
In business moves, following a successful round of funding, Singapore-based start-up Protenga will receive additional investment in its insect protein technology platform from Yield Lab Asia Pacific, Seeds Capital and JBI Innovations.
Chefs are also optimistic about future consumption, with “no less than 36% of chefs expect to see a considerable rise in customer demand for insect-based proteins and foods” by 2040, according to research by GEA.
By Marc Cervera
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