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Factors affecting willingness and future intention to eat insects in students of an edible insect course

Authors
  • Shelomi, M.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Insects as Food and Feed
Publisher
Wageningen Academic Publishers
Publication Date
Jun 29, 2023
Volume
9
Issue
7
Pages
865–876
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3920/JIFF2022.0084
Source
Wageningen Academic Publishers
Keywords
Disciplines
  • RESEARCH ARTICLE
License
Unknown

Abstract

Interest in insects as food has increased globally over the last decade. Factors affecting willingness to eat insects in countries without traditions of edible insects have been studied predominantly in Europe, and with a predominant focus on consumer attributes such as levels of food neophobia or disgust. This study examined attitudes in Taiwan, where edible insects are not commonly consumed, and included attributes of edible insects as a food innovation, using Diffusion of Innovations Theory as the framework to model explanatory variables affecting consumer choice. These choices not only included willingness to eat insect products in varying levels of disguise, but also the desire, intention, and probability of actually eating insects within the next month, in order to identify factors affecting passive rejection from lack of supply instead of active rejection. Taiwanese students of an edible insect course were surveyed on their willingness and intention to eat insects, and their views towards novel foods, insects in general, and insects as food. Food neophobia and levels of disgust or fear of insects had the strongest effects on respondent willingness and intent to eat insects. Processed insect products were seen as more acceptable, yet also riskier and less acceptable to less innovative consumers. Concern over the environmental footprint of one’s diet correlated with a willingness to replace traditional meat with insects, but otherwise was not a significant predictor of likelihood to eat insects. Variables related to insect product supply such as trialability and observability were not significant, but perceived approval or disapproval from peers and family strongly correlated with willingness to eat insects. Strongly neophobic and entomophobic consumers may remain unwilling to add insects to their diets even if they are educated on the rationale for doing so.

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