All insects are equal, but some insects are more equal than others

Fischer, Arnout R.H.; Steenbekkers, L.P.A.


Purpose: Lack of acceptance of insects as food is considered a barrier against societal adoption of the potentially valuable contribution of insects to human foods. An underlying barrier may be that insects are lumped together as one group, while consumers typically try specific insects. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the ways in which Dutch consumers, with and without insect tasting experience, are more or less willing to eat different insects. Design/methodology/approach: In a quasi-experimental study (n=140), the participants with and without prior experience in eating insects were asked to give their willingness to eat a range of insects, and their attitudes and disgust towards eating insects. Findings: Insects promoted in the market were more preferred than the less marketed insects, and a subgroup of preferred insects for participants with experience in eating insects was formed. Research limitations/implications: Although well-known insects were more preferred, general willingness to eat remained low for all participants. The results indicate that in future research on insects as food the specific insects used should be taken into account. Practical implications: Continued promotion of specific, carefully targeted, insects may not lead to short-term uptake of insects as food, but may contribute to willingness to eat insects as human food in the long term. Originality/value: The paper shows substantial differences between consumers who have and who have not previously tasted insects, with higher acceptance of people with experience in tasting insects for the specific insects that are frequently promoted beyond their generally more positive attitude towards eating insects.