Bugs? Young people like them but not women
Entomophagy is more accepted in countries such as Mexico and China, much less so in Europe (Italy and Belgium foremost)
Potential insect consumers tend to be young and male. This is the finding of a study published in the journal Plos One and conducted by the Universities of Pisa, Parma, Ghent in Belgium, Cornell in the United States and Nanjing in China. The research was conducted through a survey conducted in February and March 2022, among a sample of about 3,000 people located in five different countries (Belgium, China, Italy, Mexico and the United States) with varying levels of gastronomic culture related to insect consumption.
"This is the first study comparing multiple countries in different continents -explains Simone Mancini, a researcher at the Department of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Pisa-. We are using the data collected for research and publications that are still in progress, this is very useful material for anyone involved in marketing in this area".
The survey found that gender is the main factor influencing the level of acceptance, with the highest rejection in Italy (about 85 percent women and 75 percent men) and the lowest in countries such as Mexico (about 46 percent women and 15 percent men) and China (about 62 percent women and 50 percent men) where entomophagy is more culturally accepted. In countries where the predisposition to include insects in the diet is lower (Italy and Belgium), younger age is a factor that positively predisposes to consumption. Finally, considering all five countries, acceptance of processed insects, such as in flours, was consistently higher than for whole insects.
"The greater propensity to consume in the 18 to 41 age group than in the over-42 age group could be explained by the curiosity of younger people toward novel foods and a greater sensitivity to issues related to food sustainability -Mancini continues-. In general, as far as our country is concerned, the results in part confirm that Italians are less ready to include these novel foods in their diet, but it also denotes how other European or Western countries have already overcome these barriers and are ready to jump into the market".
For the University of Pisa, along with Mancini, Professor Roberta Moruzzo of the Department of Veterinary Sciences also participated in the study.
EFA News - European Food Agency