A European study has revealed that young men are most likely to adopt insects into their diets. The study has been published online by Science Direct and scheduled for publication in the Food Quality and Preference Journal in January 2015.
The study found that one in five meat consumers is ready to adopt insects as food, with men being 2.17 times more likely than women to do so. Consumers trying to reduce their meat intake are 4.51 times more likely to introduce insects into their diet. The study also showed that the 'trendsetters' in adopting insects as food will be younger males who are interested in the environmental impact of their food choices and open to trying novel foods.
"With low levels of neophobia (fear of new foods) the likelihood that this type of person is ready to adopt insects as a meat substitute is more than 75%, so they would be the logical target market for insect products and acceptance," explains study author Wim Verbeke from Ghent University. "This was a localised study involving over 400 participants based in Belgium but it is probable that consumer surveys in other Western countries would reveal similar findings, as the study demonstrates the most relevant determinants of consumer acceptance transferable to other regions and populations."
"The study also shows that despite some interest in eating insects, Western consumers are still strongly attached to their meat consumption habits, which underscores the relevance of investigating and encouraging the adoption of protein from sustainable sources such as insects into animal feed," Verbeke adds.
PROteINSECT, an EC-funded project investigating the use of insects in animal feed, completed its own consumer acceptance survey earlier this year, which revealed that over 70% of respondents would be happy to eat chicken, fish or pork from animals reared on insect protein. Introducing insects at this early stage of the food chain could be an important first step towards consumer acceptance.