Would you consider eating insects? They are sustainable as well as high in protein and other nutrients, however emphasizing the environmental and health benefits of eating insects, so far, hasn’t done much to sway the popular Western opinion.
Could the success of sushi hold some lessons for insects cultural identity to pierce the western market? According to Jonas House, sociologist and lecturer at Wageningen University, the low acceptance rate for insects products in the west is a result of a lack of cultural identity, not the ‘yuck factor’.
Eating raw fish was once seen as unthinkable by Western consumers so what could we learn from the rise in Sushi and replicate in the insect market? The concept of eating sushi was fashioned in high-end restaurants, in culturally appropriate contexts, with sophisticated sushi bars, with novel seating and beautifully presented dishes. House believes the halted progression of insect food products is because they “lack a trendy image or status as a delicacy; they simply don’t have the wow factor” Advocates and manufacturers need to consider how they can learn from the success of sushi and draw on them to aid insects path to the western plate. So countries, where insects are part of their traditional cuisine, could provide a key to a cultural identity for insect food to adopt.
Could making insects more palatable, through utilising them in flour and coffee etc or adding them as ingredients to snack bars, be a way of combating the ‘yuck factor’ while also allowing consumers to gain the sustainable and nutritional benefits of eating insects? Former beef-specialist chef launches cricket protein brand to combat damaging meat industry Hayden from Guernsey England had founded and funded The Cricket Hop Company. The company aims to bring to the market their cricket protein infused cold brew coffee, cricket protein bars and cricket flour, all produced and manufactured in Vietnam.
After working in the beef industry Smith started to think about how intense agriculture can’t be sustained, one beef burger requires 22 gallons of water and half a tonne of feed. “The fact is, if everyone went vegan for a year it would sort out the majority of the environmental issues we’re struggling with today.” And this passion for supporting the environment made Smith’s change careers to become an ethical entrepreneur and making use of crickets. Why crickets? They use 8% of the land needed for beef farming, less than 2% of the water and emit less than 1% of greenhouse gasses. Nutritionally they provide all nine essential amino acids, lots of vitamin B12 and other micronutrients and are 70% protein.
In whatever scenario you are trying to combat the psychological reaction. Promoting the nutritional and sustainable benefits of farming insects is unlikely to change many consumers minds. On the other hand, making insects more palatable through disguising it within food could be seen as a little patronising, treating consumers as children by sneaking vegetables into their dinners. However, changing consumers perspective on insects by appealing to instant gratification, making it trendy and into a more pleasurable eating experience could be more successful.
Read more about convincing westerners to eat insect based food: https://nationalpost.com/life/food/convincing-westerners-to-eat-insect-based-foods-requires-some-subversive-nudging
Read more about The Cricket Hop Company and Haydens’ Story: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2018/10/17/My-ethics-epiphany-Former-beef-specialist-chef-launches-cricket-protein-brand-to-combat-damaging-meat-industry
Read more about what this category can learn from sushi: https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2018/10/17/Insects-lack-culinary-identity-to-pierce-Western-markets-but-sushi-s-success-could-hold-lessons