How will better products improve the sensory-liking and willingness to buy insect-based foods?

Hui Shan Grace Tan*, Yoeri Timothy Verbaan, Markus Stieger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


Insects have been established to be a more sustainable alternative source of protein in comparison to conventional meats, but have little appeal to those who are unfamiliar with their taste. Yet little attention has been given to understanding how more appealing products could be developed, and whether that is sufficient to encourage consumption of a culturally unusual food. By evaluating appropriate (i.e. meatball) and inappropriate (i.e. dairy drink) mealworm products along with the original mealworm-free products, this study provided new insights into how the product influences sensory-liking and willingness to buy insect-based foods for trial and regular consumption. Willing (n = 135) and unwilling tasters (n = 79) were recruited to explore differences between individuals who differ in their intentions to eat insects. An appropriate product context improved the expected sensory-liking and willingness to buy mealworm products once and regularly. However, consumers should first be motivated to eat insects for a better product to improve consumption intentions. Descriptive sensory profiling revealed that mealworm products were expected and experienced to taste very different from the original mealworm-free products, but were generally preferred to taste similar to the original, albeit with some unique attributes. Using a familiar and liked product preparation could help to increase trial intentions, but the product should also be appropriate and taste good if it is to be regularly consumed. We conclude that even with high interest and good products, willing consumers still hesitate to consume insect-based foods regularly due to other practical and socio-cultural factors. We recommend that future research should not only give emphasis to increasing initial motivations to try, but should address the barriers to buying and preparing insects for regular consumption, where issues relating to availability, pricing, knowledge and the social environment inhibit the uptake of this culturally new food.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-105
JournalFood Research International
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Edible insects
  • Motivated eaters
  • Novel foods
  • Product appropriateness
  • Regular consumption


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