Experts study what is off putting for consumers about edible insect products

Although insects are consumed by more than 2 billion people worldwide, consumer acceptance in Europe is still low. In 2019, only 9 million over 750 million Europeans had consumed insects and its derived products . But how can we fight the “yuck” factor? Which edible insect products do European consumers like? On the contrary, which flavours are off putting for them?

Little research has been done so far to answer those questions, although essential to increase consumer acceptance. This is why the ValuSect consortium is currently working on sensory descriptions and standards for evaluation of edible insects and insect-based products.

The aim of this research is to describe sensory characteristics of three insect species: crickets, grasshoppers and yellow mealworms. ZHAW (Zurich University of Applied Sciences), one of ValuSect’s partners, started with sensory profiling available products on the EU and Swiss market.

In order to get first insights, 24 products of whole insects and insect powders were selected, each representing all three species. At first, a panel of experts at ZHAW screened all 24 products to get an initial overview of relevant criteria and product differences. The second step will be to develop detailed product profiles on aroma, taste and texture, look at their overall appearance and also detect possible off-flavors.

These sensory profiles, in combination with results from the planned consumer studies, will not only help understanding the consumers’ taste but will also support edible insects SMEs in creating attractive products.

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