Insects may eventually appear in consumer diets because, according to research, 58% of respondents think they might be “an alternative and sustainable source of protein in the future.”
In order to integrate insects as a source of sustainable protein in future diets, the Universitat Oberta De Catalunya’s (UOC) Food Lab conducted a study to determine the factors that improve consumer acceptance of insect intake.
consumption of insects across time
Ten thousand years ago, hunters and gatherers relied on eating bugs to survive, claims National Geographic. Insects are still often used as food in many African, Asian, and Latin American civilizations today.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has emphasized the need to review contemporary food science practices to increase the trade-in, consumption of, and acceptance of insects as a source of food. This is due to the depletion of natural resources, climate change, and the loss of biodiversity.
The authors of the study, Marta Ros, a doctoral student and member of the UOC Faculty of Health Sciences, and Anna Bach and Alicia Aguilar, faculty members and researchers at the FoodLab research group claim that studies have shown benefits for controlling weight, lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels, and increasing animal microbiota diversity.
However, the authors noted that with regards to people, additional research has demonstrated that eating insects can support better gut health, lower systemic inflammation, and considerably raise blood levels of amino acids.
Human perceptions of eating insects
A total of 86% of the 1,034 survey participants indicated they had never eaten a bug, whereas 13% admitted to having done so.
Disgust (38%) was the top reason given for not eating insects, followed by lack of tradition (15%), concerns about food safety (9%), and cultural considerations (6%) among others.
When survey participants were asked to examine whether they would be willing to incorporate insects into their regular diet, the unwillingness to consume insects was also evident. 16 percent of respondents indicated that they would, while 82 percent indicated that they would not. 28 percent of respondents indicated they would cook insects at home, while the majority, 71 percent, said they wouldn’t.
When asked if they would eat at a restaurant that served dishes containing insects, 73% said no, but 25% said yes.
In the end, 81 percent of respondents, in this case, concluded that the general public would not be amenable to dishes including insects, while 16 percent disagreed.
Will future diets include insects?
Even given the statistics mentioned above, the authors point out that nearly 50% of respondents thought knowing that insects may be a sustainable food source would stimulate their use, while 48% indicated it would not.
In a more upbeat tone, when asked if eating insects would become a habit in the future, 58 percent of respondents answered favorably, while 38 percent disagreed.
Seventy percent of respondents claimed that the way in which insects are prepared for consumption would be crucial in drawing customers and that a preparation that concealed the insects’ inherent shape would make them more palatable.
However, 10% of respondents thought that if customers could view insects in their natural state, they would be more alluring.
Flour (23 percent), followed by bars (6 percent), and biscuits (six percent) was the most favorite format among the survey participants (5.8 percent). The study’s authors observe that, when examining demographics, men appear to be more open to eating insects than women are, and that people between the ages of 40 and 59 are the most willing to give them a try.