Eating insects: too nutritious to be delicious?

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The multiple benefits of the consumption of insects, among which high levels of nutrients (such as proteins and amino acids) and a low impact on the environment, have not been recognized yet by the western society. Emotional aversion, disgust, rejection of novel foods and lack of familiarity are the most important factors to form an obstacle from the acceptance of the consumption of insects, also referred to as entomophagy. The current research investigated the potential effects of language, specifically, framing of texts and types of insect-based food products on the attitude towards insect-based food products, the intention to try these products and the intention to eat insect-based food products regularly. As marketing offers great opportunities for repeated exposure of insect-based food products, this might enhance the familiarity with these types of products and therefore lead to acceptance in western society. Appropriate marketing will help to overcome negative associations with entomophagy, facilitate diffusion of insect-based food products and consequently the willingness to eat. To investigate these effects, 99 Dutch young adults filled out a questionnaire, in which they were exposed to four kinds of insect-based food products. Two of them represented meat substitutes (deep-fried meatballs and hamburger) and the other two represented non-meat substitutes (nachos and pasta). According to the results, non-meat substitute insect-based food products led to a higher intention to try than meat substitute insect-based food product for female respondents. For male respondents, the opposite result was found. The effect of framing on either of the three dependent variables, did not show any no significant results. To conclude, the manipulation of framing was not effective in the current study, but the type of insect-based food product did make a difference. Further research is needed to define which types of insect-based food products have the highest opportunity of being accepted in western society.
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