Customisation of insect proteins

The project aims to understand and improve the acceptability of foods containing whole insects, grinded insects, insect protein fractions and insect chitin in the Western food supply.

The project consists of three closely connected research lines addressing different important aspects of insect proteins and insect protein containing foods:

  1. the physical-chemical and functional product properties,
  2. the sensory perception and
  3. the consumer acceptance.

Specifically, the proposed project explores how factors such as the extent of recognisability of insect ingredients, provision of explicit product information of the consumer influence the functional product properties, sensory performance and consumer acceptance. Based on a fundamental understanding of the relationships between functional properties, sensory perception and consumer acceptance the proposed project will provide design rules for the development of insect containing foods with excellent palatability.

There is a growing need to develop novel foods from alternative protein sources with excellent consumer acceptance, high nutritional value and good palatability. A major challenge for the development of food products for consumers is the incorporation of novel, sustainably produced proteins into the food product while maintaining the functional, immunological and sensorial properties of the product.

In the western world insects are considered a promising alternative source of animal protein since production of insects is highly sustainable in comparison to production of cattle, pork and poultry. Farming insects is characterised by higher food conversion efficiencies (Ramos-Elorduy, 1997), lower environmental impact (Oonincx et al. 2010) and higher potential to be grown on waste streams (Ramos-Elorduy, 1997).

Sustainability is expected to be an increasingly important aspect for consumers when choosing foods and evaluating food quality. The nutritional value of insects closely resembles the nutritional value of other animal protein sources such as chicken, beef, pork and fish (Bukkens 1997, 2005). In addition, many species of insects are considered a delicacy in Africa, Asia and Latin America indicating the high palatability and excellent taste insects have. About 1500 edible insect species are consumed worldwide (Ramos-Elorduy, 1997) at all stages of development being eggs, larvae, pupae and even adults.