Why do unusual novel foods like insects lack sensory appeal? Investigating the underlying sensory perceptions

Grace Tan Hui Shan*, Claudia Joyce Tibboel, Markus Stieger

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


Unusual novel foods like insects generally hold little sensory appeal for consumers, but little is known about the underlying sensory perceptions and how the properties of the food contribute to acceptance. This study examined the sensory perceptions of 3 unusual novel foods (lamb brain, frog meat, mealworms) that were claimed to be present in beef burger patties. Dutch consumers (n = 100) performed descriptive sensory evaluations and assessed food appropriateness of four different burger patties before and after tasting, and reported their willingness to eat again. The 4 samples were presented in different combinations with 4 labels claiming either 100% beef or 75% beef and 25% novel ingredient, to explore how the food's identity and properties contribute to sensory perceptions. Beliefs about the food's taste were informed by species-related associations, and tended to be more negative when the food had never been tasted before. While these pre-consumption beliefs had some influence on sensory perceptions after tasting, the food's properties mainly determined the consumption experience. However, the low willingness to eat had more to do with food appropriateness than the actual taste of the food. The food's taste nevertheless exerts an influence on the perceived food appropriateness and should not be neglected. While incorporating unusual novel foods within a familiar product could help to create more positive expectations, it is still less appealing than the original products that consumers are familiar with. We recommend that future research on novel food acceptance should take into account that perceptions differ between novel and familiar foods, and that product development for culturally inappropriate foods requires selecting suitable product types and adjustment of its properties to match both consumer motivations and taste expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-58
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Edible insects
  • Familiarity
  • Food appropriateness
  • Novel food
  • Sensory perception


Dive into the research topics of 'Why do unusual novel foods like insects lack sensory appeal? Investigating the underlying sensory perceptions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this