Eating edible insects as sustainable food? Exploring the determinants of consumer acceptance in Germany

Food Res Int. 2019 Nov:125:108573. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2019.108573. Epub 2019 Jul 22.


The potential use of insects as a novel food source has recently attracted a great deal of attention in Europe, as they have many environmental and nutritional advantages and thus present a promising and sustainable animal protein source. Yet despite insects being a highly appreciated food in many parts of the world, consumer aversion remains as the major barrier to successful implementation in Europe. This study examines prospects of edible whole insect and processed insect-based food in Germany and investigates determining factors for acceptance. It does so to better understand consumers' attitudes toward insects and to derive approaches for insect food to become more appreciated. An online survey was conducted within the German population with a final sample of 393 participants. Several explanatory variables were established, and their influence on the acceptance of whole and processed insect products was analyzed by applying ordinal regressions to compare the market potential and hurdles of either option. The main results show a low willingness to try insects among Germans and the prevalence of psychological and personality barriers to consumption, such as disgust and food neophobia. Focusing on processed insect products is shown to be the most promising strategy to implement entomophagy, as an essential barrier to consumption is the visibility of the insects. However, whether this strategy would diminish the rejection of any insect product requires further investigation.

Keywords: Alternative protein source; Consumer acceptance; Edible insects; Entomophagy; Novel food; Processed insect food; Whole insect food.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Consumer Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disgust
  • Edible Insects*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult