Americans Becoming More Interested in the Idea of Eating Bugs

October 25, 2017

Sixty percent, up 20% from a year ago, say they are willing to eat bugs as an ingredient in their food.

There’s an international movement towards incorporating more insects into the foods people eat, and the nutritional benefits alone, which includes a high protein profile, make creepy crawlies a logical source for ingredients in our food. 

But how willing are Americans to eat bugs? Remember a few years ago when Starbucks came under fire for using ground up bugs as food coloring in their Frappucinos? But the fact of the matter is that insects are actually common in food, and ultimately could be deemed a healthier alternative to artificial ingredients. But does that explanation really ease the “gross” factor for consumers? 

We asked our consumer panel a year ago to tell us about their feelings when it comes to eating insects. In 2016, 40% said they would eat bugs as an ingredient in their food, and 40% said they would not. Twenty percent said “not sure.” 

We ran the same poll this year, and in 2017, our panel’s feelings have changed significantly with 60% saying they would eat insects, 25% said no (down 15% from 2016!), and 15% said “not sure.”

We gave our panel a list of foods currently in the works that contain insects, and we asked them to tell us which ones they would try. 

We also asked them if they had actually tried any food on the list. In 2016, only 16% said they had tried at least one of the foods on the list. In 2017, that number more than doubled to 34% saying they had tried one of the foods on the list. 

The science suggests that using insects in our foods not only provides a healthy dose of protein and other nutrients, but this source could also help curb world hunger as we face shrinking food supplies. In addition, insects use very little resources and can be quite versatile in their uses. 

As more products appear on the shelves of your store, as a retailer you can help shoppers overcome the “ick” factor by educating on them on the benefits and the growing acceptance worldwide.