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Highly educated men are more positive to the notion of eating insects

About one third of Danish consumers are positive towards the notion of eating insects, and particularly men living in the Copenhagen area. The consumers prefer products containing processed insects instead of whole insects. A new report from Aarhus University demonstrates this.

[Translate to English:] De sociale normer spiller ind på villigheden til at spise insekter. Hvis ens nærmeste mener, at insekter er ulækre, falder lysten til at smage dem. Foto: Colourbox

Feeding the world in 2050 will require at least a doubling of food production. This is one of the reasons why insects are considered – to an increasing extent – as a new food source. Insects are rich in protein and have a minor environmental impact compared to other protein sources.

However, insects as human food have been ignored in the Western part of the world, and the majority of consumers in Western countries find the thought of eating insects gross.

In a new report, researchers from the MAPP Centre, Aarhus University, have studied the Danes’ willingness to eat insects. The results are available in the DCA report ”Forbrugerinteresse i at spise insekter” (Consumer interest in eating insects). The report is published by DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture, and was commissioned by the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark as part of Aarhus University’s agreement with the ministry on the provision of research-based policy support.

The report consists of a literature review and a quantitative questionnaire survey among Danish consumers.

Young people are more inclined to eat insects

28 percent of the consumers asked in the survey were positive towards eating insects, and the majority of these were men. In addition, most of them were highly educated. About 23 percent of the consumers were against insect consumption and considered it disgusting.

-          Younger consumers are more willing to eat insect products, and most of the potential insect consumers come from the Copenhagen area. We also noticed that consumers who have previously tasted insects, are more positive to the thought of doing so again, says Research Assistant Pernille N. Videbæk from the MAPP Centre at Aarhus University. She is one of the authors of the report.

Various different factors are important to consumers’ willingness to taste new food products, including curiosity and inclination. Equally important is the threshold indicating disgust. 

Insects should be processed

Danish consumers clearly prefer processed insects in food products. They do not seem enthusiastic about using whole insects in their food.

Packaging of food containing insects is of significant importance. If the packaging displays whole insects, consumers are less likely to find these attractive; contrary to packaging that merely implies that the product contains insects. 

A different view on insect consumption is required

Consumer information on the nutritional value and gastronomic properties of insects – and the fact that they have a minor environmental impact compared to other protein sources – does not seem to make a difference in consumer perception of insect products.

However, social norms play a significant role in relation to the willingness to eat insects. If your family considers insects disgusting, you may not want to taste them.

-          It is a problem that insect consumption in general is considered to be gross, as this means that you are less likely to try eating them yourself. Therefore, we need initiatives to change the general attitude in large segments of society and provide them with a different view on insect consumption. Instead of being considered as gross, the ideal solution would be to consider insects as food and maybe – with time – even a delicacy, says Pernille N. Videbæk.

The DCA report ”Forbrugerinteresse i at spise insekter” (Consumer interest in eating insects) is available for download here (in Danish)

Further information

Pernille N. Videbæk, Research Assistant

MAPP Centre, Aarhus University

E-mail: pnv@mgmt.au.dk

Tel.: +45 87 16 61 69