Is the UK willing to dine on bugs?

I’m not sure about eating insects. I’m already a fussy eater, so the idea of munching yogurt-coated ants while at the local cinema just doesn’t appeal.

I was amused by a report from research specialist Canadean, which said: ‘The way the insect-derived product is presented and marketed will be key in convincing consumers to give insects a try.’

You could apply this to any food, of course, and I will perhaps unfairly bring up the horse meat scandal. If you market anything in a certain way, we’ll probably give it a go.

Spider cupcakeOh, but insects. I’ve seen them in transparent lollipops in Selfridges, more as a curiosity than a sustainable food source of the future. Yet, if Canadean’s predictions are right, and that the European Union’s $3m research investment is anything to go by, we’ll be seasoning our beetles with spider eyes before you know it, and I for one will be holding out until the very last minute before doing so. (I will also be heavily armed and protecting a house full of chocolate from other rebels.)

If it’s just the idea that’s stopping me from embracing insects as food, I should consider what ABC News apparently said a few years ago, about how an average chocolate bar contains eight insect parts, and that anything less than 60 insect pieces per 100g of chocolate is deemed safe for consumption by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Canadean research says that consumers who are given detailed, flavour-focused product descriptions are more likely to consider eating insects, with 46% saying they would be willing to try them. So, if they look like a dried-up creepy crawly, as long as the packaging says they taste like Tic Tacs we’ll be OK? I’m not so sure.

Yet, in the spirit of being positive, I’ll see what happens with the research. Let’s face it, there are almost 2,000 edible insect species, which means 40 tonnes of insects for every human on Earth. They are rich in protein, iron and calcium and low in fat and cholesterol.

“Processed insects will be an easier sell than products where consumers can see the insects in front of them,” said Canadean analyst Catherine O’Connor. “To get past the disgust barrier, insect-derived foods must have a strong visual appeal and not be recognisably bug-based.”

If they happen to be inside my jar of peanut butter without me actually knowing too much about it, I think I’ll be happy. Actually, they may already be inside my jar of peanut butter …

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