fried crickets in Thai dishBy Christine Blank

Consumers are becoming increasingly keen on the idea eating insects but there are still hurdles to overcome, according to an expert panel in the FIRST session, “The Role of Insect Proteins for Nutrition, Environment and Artificial Intelligence.”

While consumer acceptance in the Western world is “quite low,” research shows it is growing, says Mariam Nikravech, PhD candidate at the University of Berlin’s Dept. of Education for Sustainable Nutrition and Food Science.

“There is an emerging trend for insects as food that has been observed whereby they're considered as an exotic luxury product to be consumed as part of a culinary experience,” she says. Young males are particularly willing to try insect products, according to research.

Nikravech and other researchers at the University of Berlin are investigating the premium that consumers will pay for insects. Via a hypothetical choice experiment involving 750 consumers in Germany, Italy, and Portugal, “We try to identify the price that consumers are ready to pay for a specific attribute of insect-based food products, such as the form, the continuance degree, or whether or not they have organic labels,” she says.

However, in order for more of the population to be comfortable with eating insects, suppliers and educators must first increase “the acceptance to taste insects at all,” Nikravech notes. “Then, the second goal would be to increase the acceptance of insects as part of the regular diet.”

To overcome the disgust in order to increase acceptance, marketers are utilizing a positive association with edible products as a marketing approach.

“The most important aspect to increase the consumer acceptance is the taste,” explains Nikravech. “The insect-based food has to taste good right from the first experience on. But, before reaching that point of tasting the insect, there's a need to create a positive taste expectation.”

Associating the insect with a known familiar carrier product, flavor, or dish is one of the best ways to garner trials. “For instance, savory preparations appeared in several studies to be more appropriate to increase the acceptance of insect-based food,” Nikravech notes.

Another route is making the insects invisible through processing into more conventional forms or adding the insect proteins to a new food product, she adds.

Consumer acceptance can also be increased by educating them about insects’ high nutritional profile. Dried insects have a much higher protein content than fresh lean meat and eggs, while being much more sustainable.


Register for FIRST to view this session and 100+ more—available on demand through Dec. 31, 2021.

Christine Blank is a freelance journalist based in Orland, Fla.

Digital Exclusives right arrow

10 Food Trend Predictions for 2022

The editors at Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), have announced their predictions for the hottest food trends for 2022.

When Science Follows Technology

While canning is commonplace today, for that generation of food technologists it was a paradigmatic example of the power of science to change food for the better.

Ingredient Companies Seek Sodium Reduction Solutions

In October 2021, the FDA released new voluntary guidance on sodium reduction with the overarching goal of reducing consumption by 12% over the next two-and-a-half years.

North American Consumers Get Comfortable With Cannabis

What changes have occurred in the way Canadians perceive cannabis since it was legalized there in 2018? How do Canadian and U.S. consumers of cannabis and edibles compare?

Food Technology Articles right arrow

Keeping an Eye on the Nation’s Nutrition

In a new role at the USDA, an award-winning researcher and public policy expert is poised to break down barriers to nutrition security and health equity.

Food Insecurity Felt in Every U.S. County, Getting the Scoop on Ice Cream Flavors

News about food science research, food companies, food regulations, and consumer/marketplace trends

Resilience, Hope, and Mercy

Consultant and nutrition specialist Mercy Lung’aho advocates for a healthier food system throughout sub-Saharan Africa. She shares how a blend of life experience, cultural awareness, and political savvy inform her daily work as a scientist and challenges her peers to prioritize interdisciplinary dialogue to address food system challenges.

Moisture Meter Tackles Mycotoxins in Ghana's Grains

Miranda Grizio relates the story of the creation of a low-cost moisture meter that is keeping grain safer in Ghana.

Recent Brain Food right arrow

Nine Tips to Keep Food Safe This Fall

Labor Day weekend generally marks the unofficial end of summer in the United States, but it doesn’t have to mean the end of summer fun.

10 Common Culprits of Foodborne Illnesses

As a food consumer, there are many methods to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

A Historical Look at Food Safety

Here's a look at major food safety developments throughout the years. 

5 Tips and Tricks for Packing Healthier Lunches

IFT’s Anna Rosales shares secrets for serving up nutritious lunchtime eats for the younger set.