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Consumer Acceptance of Insects as Food: Integrating Psychological and Socio-cultural Perspectives

  • Hui Shan Grace Tan
  • Jonas House
Chapter

Abstract

Although interest in the use of insects as food is growing in Europe and the US (the “West”), Western insect consumption remains far from widespread. Western resistance to entomophagy is often contrasted with the favourable position of edible insects in other regions, but little scholarship thus far has engaged with the question of why this difference exists. Drawing mainly on two qualitative studies, we compare the factors affecting insect consumption in contexts where it is both established (northeast Thailand) and where it is not (the Netherlands). We argue that the integration of different disciplinary perspectives elucidates the complexity of consumer acceptance, which goes beyond simple “willingness to eat” insects. Our research shows that the positioning of insects as an appreciated, regularly consumed food is the result of the intersection of a broad range of psychological, socio-cultural, practical and contextual factors. In addition to the commonly discussed psychological factors, regular insect consumption is determined by previous experience, culinary knowledge, wider cultural associations, established routines of food provisioning and eating, and the availability, price, form and taste of products. We suggest both demand-side factors (changing consumer perceptions) and supply-side factors (creating tasty, usable, distinctive and accessible products) are equally important to gaining consumer acceptance. We also emphasise that initial motivations to eat insects and repeated consumption are different things, and that there is a need to distinguish between the two in future scholarly and commercial efforts.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Jonas House’s research received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, grant number ES/J500215/1. Hui Shan Grace Tan’s research received funding from the IP/OP Customized Nutrition programme financed by Wageningen University & Research Centre.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hui Shan Grace Tan
    • 1
  • Jonas House
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Food Quality and DesignWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Sociology of Consumption and HouseholdsWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of GeographyUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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