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Bugs, young people like them but not women

Entomophagy is more accepted in countries such as Mexico and China, much less in Europe

The results of a research conducted by four universities on three continents have been published, including the universities of Pisa and Parma.

The potential consumer of insects tends to be young and male. This is what emerges from a study published in the journal Plos One and carried out 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 carried out in February and March 2022, on a sample of about 3000 people located in five different countries (Belgium, China, Italy, Mexico and the United States) with various levels of gastronomic culture linked to the consumption of insects. “This is the first study that compares several countries on different continents - explains Simone Mancini , researcher in the Department of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Pisa -; we are using the collected data for ongoing research and publications, this is very useful material for anyone involved in marketing in this sector”.

The survey revealed that gender is the main factor influencing the level of acceptance, with the greatest rejection in Italy (about 85% women and 75% men) and the least in countries such as Mexico (about 46% women and 15% men) and China (about 62% women and 50% men) where entomophagy is culturally more 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, the acceptance of processed insects, for example in flour, was always higher than whole ones.

“The greater propensity to consume in the population between 18 and 41 compared to the over 42s could be explained by the curiosity of the youngest towards novel food and by a greater sensitivity to issues related to food sustainability – continues Mancini -. In general, as far as our country is concerned, the results partially confirm that Italians are less ready to include these novel foods in their diet, but it also shows that other European or Western countries have already overcome these barriers and are ready to jump on the market".

For the University of Pisa, together with Mancini, Professor Roberta Moruzzo of the Department of Veterinary Sciences also participated in the study.

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EFA News - European Food Agency