Are Your Shoppers Ready to Eat Insects?

December 02, 2016

Forty percent of the consumer panel said they would eat insects as an ingredient in their food.

Eating insects is gaining traction in the US as an increasing amount of food products, restaurants, and resources are going towards growing this sector.  The Food and Agricultural Organization’s report, Edible insects Future prospects for food and feed security, urges the developed world to adopt eating bugs for environmental and health benefits.  With high protein, calcium, zinc, iron, fiber and omega 3s, and lower environmental requirements (Crickets for example, require much less food, water, space, land, and time than traditional livestock, and produce fewer greenhouse gases.) insects might just be the food of the future. But will consumers actually eat them?  The Lempert Report queried the SupermarketGuru consumer panel to find out if they would include insects, or already have, in their diets.

Forty percent of the consumer panel said they would eat insects as an ingredient in their food. Thirty-nine percent definitively answered no, and twenty one percent are still unsure.

As many food (and beauty) insiders know, red color can come from the scales of some insects – labeled as cochineal, carminic acid or carmine - so consumers have been knowingly or unknowingly “eating” insects for a while.

When queried about certain foods containing insects, less than half of the consumer panel was aware that insects are being used either as a main ingredient or just for color:

  • Protein alternatives 49%
  • Protein bars 44%
  • Food coloring 41%
  • Baking flour alternatives 37%
  • Cookies 23%
  • Candy 22%
  • Pasta sauce 13%
  • Chips 11%
  • None of these 24% 

There are a variety of new products currently available, or soon to be launched, made with insects. The consumer panel shared which if any, they would eat (31% said they wouldn’t eat any and 21% are not sure if they are ready for this trend):

  • Cricket flour in protein 36%
  • Cricket protein powder 34%
  • Chocolate chips cookies with cricket flour 31%
  • Chips with cricket flour 29%
  • Orange ginger cookies 21%
  • Salt and vinegar cricket flour chips 21%
  • Cricket Bolognese 18%
  • Chocolate covered salted crickets 18%
  • Deep fried bugs 17%
  • Mealworm Bolognese 13%

The vast majority of the consumer panel has not tried any of these products, but those who have had tasted products made with cricket protein or cricket flour.