|Title||The influence of product preparation, familiarity and individual traits on the consumer acceptance of insects as food|
|Author(s)||Tan Hui Shan, Grace; Berg, Eva van den; Stieger, Markus|
|Source||Food Quality and Preference 52 (2016). - ISSN 0950-3293 - p. 222 - 231.|
Food Quality and Design
Chair Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour
|Publication type||Refereed Article in a scientific journal|
|Keyword(s)||Appropriateness - Edible insects - Familiarity - Food neophobia - Food rejection - Novel food|
Insects are highly valued as food in many cultures but have only recently gained interest in the West as a sustainable alternative to reduce the environmental impact of meat production. Despite the growing consumer interest in insect consumption, there is still a great disparity between curious trying and actual acceptance. The aim of this study was to examine how the product preparation, familiarity and individual traits (e.g. food neophobia) influence the consumer acceptance of insects as food. Dutch consumers (n = 976) evaluated 8 mealworm product images on 4 acceptability measures (product appropriateness, expected sensory-liking, willingness to buy, willingness to try). Product images varied according to mealworm visibility (visible/invisible), carrier flavour (savoury/sweet) and carrier origin (Western/Asian). High product acceptability was not simply achieved by adding mealworms to familiar foods. Acceptability depended very much on the perceived appropriateness of mealworms as food and the perceived appropriateness of the product combination. However, mealworm products were always expected to be inferior to the carrier products, even when visually identical. Familiarity with mealworms and individual traits played a relatively minor role, and influenced the willingness to try more than the other acceptability measures. We conclude that appropriate product design is important but insufficient to achieve consumer acceptance of insects as food in the West. Additional incentives are required to encourage acceptance beyond the mere willingness to try. We discuss the complexities underlying the consumer acceptance of insects as food and reflect on how acceptance might be increased in the future.