Could Edible Insects Solve World Hunger?
Australian consumers are participating in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Adelaide to gauge the potential of edible insects for the food industry.
"We want to further investigate consumers' attitudes towards edible insects, evaluate taste preferences and consumers' willingness to buy such products," researcher Dr. Anna Crump said. "We will also be asking consumers questions relating to food neophobia - reluctance to eat novel or new foods. We'll be interested to see if a consumer's ethnicity influences their acceptance of edible insects."
In an introductory survey, researchers discovered that 20 percent of 820 Australian consumers had tried edible insects; 46 percent of those surveyed said they would be willing to try a cookie made from insect flour.
"In the earlier survey, consumers said they were most likely to try flavored or roasted insects and least likely to want to try cockroaches or spiders," Dr. Crump added. "In this taste test, we've chosen products that consumers are most likely to react positively towards - apologies to anyone keen to try a cockroach or spider. The samples we'll be offering consumers provide a good spread of the available insect products in Australia's marketplace, some of which may be more acceptable than others."
Dr. Crump claims that the research will help lead the development of an edible insect industry.
"In Australia, edible insects remain an emerging agricultural industry. Consumer research is needed to improve consumer acceptance of edible insects, so as to realize their potential as an alternate protein source," she said.
According to project leader Professor Kerry Wilkinson, edible insects could play a major role in global food security.
"Issues such as climate change, increasing global population, scarcity of agricultural land and rapidly changing consumer preferences, particularly in developing countries where there is increasing demand for high quality animal protein," Professor Wilkinson added.