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Insect-Enriched Foods: EU Consumer Acceptance Survey

map of IPIFF survey

The survey made by IPIFF aims to provide a holistic view of European consumer sentiment towards insect-enriched food products. Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey.


IPIFF recently released a report on changing European eating habits and the rising interest in insect-enriched food products.


As the EU's leading representative body for insect production in food and feed, IPIFF plays an important role in shaping understanding and innovation in this emerging industry.


The survey questionnaire used in the study was developed by the IPIFF Secretariat in collaboration with its members from the Working Group on "Food Safety & Consumer Information."


These members bring diverse scientific backgrounds, including nutrition, chemical engineering, industrial design engineering, food marketing, health food innovation, biotechnology, psychology, and sociology, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of consumer attitudes.


consumer survey IPIFF

Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey. P. 9


Conducted across six EU countries - France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Poland, and Belgium - the survey targeted a broad demographic to capture nuanced consumer behavior.


These countries were chosen for their representation of the largest EU markets and their diverse cultural, social, and geographic backgrounds.


By including various age groups, educational levels, and gender representations, the survey aims to provide a holistic view of European consumer sentiment towards insect-enriched food products.


What insects have participants tried?


Not everyone in the study had tasted foods with insects, but about a third mentioned they had eaten either whole insects or foods made with insect ingredients before.


consumer survey results IPIFF

Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey. P. 17


Among those who had given insects a try, most said they had eaten whole grasshoppers (61%).


Yellow mealworms (45%) and house crickets (42%) were the next most popular insects.


What type of products have they tried?


consumer survey IPIFF results

Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey. P. 16


Of those who had tried food products made with insect ingredients, more than half (51%) opted for options such as protein bars, cookies or similar snacks. The next popular choice, at 41%, was snacks like crackers.


Coming in close were pasta or related products (39%) and bread or other baked goods (38%). About 29% had given protein shakes made with insect protein powder a shot.


How do food products made with insect ingredients taste?


When it comes to ranking the taste of food products containing insect ingredients on a scale of 0 to 10, the majority of consumers were pleasantly surprised, rating the taste as "very good."



consumer survey insect products IPIFF

Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey. P. 19


A significant 56% gave it a rating between 7 and 10. Moreover, 45% expressed a definite willingness to try it again, with their enthusiasm falling within the higher end of the scale, between 7 and 10.


Interestingly, individuals aged 25 to 44, particularly males, exhibit a pronounced openness to trying insect-based foods, showing a shift in attitude towards alternative protein sources.


Consumers preferences


When it comes to influencing their consumption of food products made with insect ingredients, respondents weigh several factors.


Taste emerges as the most crucial consideration for the majority, with a significant 71% indicating its importance.



Following closely behind is the consideration of health benefits, with 47% of respondents prioritizing this aspect in their decision-making process.


results ipiff survey edible insects

Source: IPIFF, 2024. EU Consumer Acceptance Survey. P. 24


Price also plays a pivotal role, with 45% recognizing its impact on their consumption choices.


Interestingly, factors related to environmental sustainability rank considerably lower in respondents' considerations.


Factors affecting willingness to consume these products


In the study, participants were asked to prioritize various factors influencing their willingness to consume food products containing insect ingredients. Surprisingly, the most significant influence was knowing someone who already enjoys such foods. Trust in insect-enriched products from EU sources closely followed, indicating the importance of credibility in consumer decisions.


Moreover, participants expressed a sense of social responsibility, with many considering their consumption as a contribution to addressing world hunger. The familiarity of traditional foods incorporating insect ingredients also played a role, suggesting that cultural acceptance influences consumer choices.


Furthermore, participants showed curiosity about new gastronomic experiences and appreciated the sustainable practices associated with insect farming.


In terms of practical factors driving consumption, affordability emerged as the primary concern, highlighting the importance of cost in consumer decisions. Additionally, the convenience of purchasing insect-based products from mainstream retailers significantly influenced willingness to try them.


Interestingly, the study also revealed a knowledge gap regarding the preparation and cooking of insect-based foods. This suggests that education and accessibility to recipes and cooking methods could further encourage consumer acceptance.


Finally, the influence of brand recognition cannot be overlooked, as consumers were more willing to try insect-based products from familiar and trusted brands. And the endorsement of such products by acquaintances was a significant motivator, highlighting the power of social influence in shaping consumer behavior.


Closing thoughts


The IPIFF survey paints an intriguing picture of how Europeans feel about insect-enriched food products, revealing a growing acceptance and curiosity among consumers.


Factors like taste, health benefits, and price influence consumer decisions, while social influences and familiarity with insect-based foods also play significant roles.


Overall, the findings underscore a shifting paradigm towards alternative protein sources and highlight the potential for further growth and innovation in the insect food industry within the European Union.


There is still much to discover about insects as ingredients in human food.


If you are interested in learning more about the growing edible insect sector, check out our online course titled “Edible insects: Food, feed and other applications”.


👋 See you in the next edition!


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Reference


International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed. (2023). EU consumer acceptance of edible insects: Survey report. https://ipiff.org/eu-consumer-acceptance-of-edible-insects-survey-report/

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