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Edible insects to help global food security
June 18, 2017, 12:58 pm

Consumers in Adelaide, Australia are taking part in a University of Adelaide research study to help realize the potential for edible insects as a food industry.

Consumer attitudes are being put to the test at Adelaide Central Market with an offering of roasted crickets and ants, mealworm cookies and cricket energy bars.

"We want to further investigate consumers' attitudes towards edible insects, evaluate taste preferences and consumers' willingness to buy such products," said researchers behind the study. "We will also be asking consumers questions relating to food neophobia — reluctance to eat novel or new foods — and will also be interested to see if a consumer's ethnicity influences their acceptance of edible insects."

In a preliminary online survey of 820 Australian consumers, the researchers found that 20 percent had tried edible insects. Of those surveyed, 46 percent said they would be willing to try a cookie made from insect flour. Consumers also said they were most likely to try flavored or roasted insects and least likely to want to try cockroaches or spiders.

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, said the researchers. For the taste test, the researchers chose products that consumers are most likely to react positively towards and represented a good spread of the available insect products in Australia's marketplace.

The researchers hope to be able to pinpoint target markets for edible insects and ways of encouraging their uptake by consumers not only in the domestic market, but also as a high-value product for the export market.

Edible insects could play a 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.

These food security issues will only be overcome by a shift in food consumption habits, particularly when we are talking about meat consumption. Edible insects could provide one solution.


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