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Food: This is how you can make people eat insects
Mealworms, grasshoppers, beetles: insects are the food of the future. They are healthier and more environmentally friendly than meat from pigs or cows. But most people find it disgusting to eat the little animals. A study has now shown how to convince them to eat insects.
Many people find eating insects disgusting
In our culture, eating insects (entomophagy) has so far been unusual, but in some regions of Asia, Latin America and Africa, the consumption of small animals has long been widespread. At the beginning of 2018, the European Union introduced new legal regulations. Insects or products made from them, such as pasta or burgers, are already on the increase. However, disgust dominates many people before eating such foods. A study has now shown how you can still convince them to eat insects.
Healthy and environmentally friendly nutrition
Not only climate change, but also the growing population is presenting society with major challenges worldwide:
How will people be fed in the future without further burdening the climate with food production? Because, according to experts, 20 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for - cattle breeding makes a major contribution.
Insect-based foods are a healthy and sustainable alternative. These are not only nutritious, they also produce significantly less CO2 than cows or pigs.
But how conservative is the population in their eating habits? And how can trust in alternative nutritional concepts be increased?
A research group has dealt with these questions in a cooperative project.
In their study, which was recently published in the journal "Frontiers in Nutrition", they examined which advertising and sales arguments motivate people to eat insects.
Overcome disgust with insects
German experts have been working on whether insects could be the better food and feed in the future, but the sale of insects in the EU was only regulated at the beginning of this year.
Since then, dishes such as insect burgers and pasta or dried mealworms have been available.
But many people are disgusted with such dishes. How can you convince them to eat insects?
Prof. Dr. Answer Fabian Christandl from the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, Department of Business & Media, together with colleagues Ass. Prof. Sebastian Berger and Annika Wyss from the University of Bern, Christian Bärtsch from ESSENTO Food AG and Christina Schmidt from the University of Cologne.
Test subjects were offered mealworm chocolate candies
As stated in a message, a total of 180 subjects took part in the laboratory study that was carried out at the Fresenius University of Applied Sciences on the Cologne campus.
The participants initially received one of six specially produced advertising flyers for a start-up for insects as food.
Half of the subjects were given a flyer with advertising slogans that emphasized the health-promoting and environmentally friendly aspects of insects.
Slogans such as "meat has never been so healthy" or "meat has never been so environmentally friendly" were used.
The other half of the study participants, on the other hand, were given flyers in which insects were advertised as luxury products and associated with a trendy lifestyle.
The participants were then offered mealworm chocolate candies.
Advertise insects as stimulants
The result: 76.2 percent of those surveyed, to whom insects were presented as a luxury product, dared to eat the meal worm chocolate candies.
On the other hand, if it was found that eating insects is good for the environment or health, it was significantly less at 61.3 percent.
“Our results show that advertising should advertise insects more as a stimulant. With this strategy, they can tend to convince more consumers to include insects on their menu, ”says Prof. Fabian Christandl. (ad)