Consumer approach to insects as food: barriers and potential for consumption in Italy

Clara Cicatiello (Department of Economics and Management, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)
Beatrice De Rosa (Department for Innovation in Biological, Agro-food and Forest Systems, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)
Silvio Franco (Department of Economics and Management, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)
Nicola Lacetera (Department of Agriculture and Forestry Science, Università degli Studi della Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Publication date: 5 September 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the attitude of Italian consumers towards insect consumption. The use of insects as alternative protein source is claimed to be a solution to the environmental concerns over the production of animal proteins and to food security issues. Studies conducted in other European countries report that consumers are quite resistant to the introduction of insect-based products in their diet, although those who are more concerned about environmental and health show some interest towards insect consumption.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors conducted a survey with a 14-item questionnaire on 201 consumers, selected with a systematic sampling within a shopping mall. The factors influencing respondents’ attitude towards insect consumption were studied by means of a logistic regression.

Findings

Results show that 31 per cent of respondents were willing to try insects as food, while 5 per cent had already tried. Familiarity with foreign food, higher education and gender (male) positively influenced consumer attitude to entomophagy. Instead, the fear of insects and the idea that the taste might be disgusting were the main barriers to the willingness to try entomophagy, although these issues were mainly raised by consumers who had no direct experience with insects eating.

Originality/value

The paper is a first attempt of exploring the topic of entomophagy in the Italian context. Most of the results were consistent with previous research carried out in other countries. However, some barriers to insect consumption seem to be stronger in Italy than elsewhere.

Keywords

Citation

Cicatiello, C., De Rosa, B., Franco, S. and Lacetera, N. (2016), "Consumer approach to insects as food: barriers and potential for consumption in Italy", British Food Journal, Vol. 118 No. 9, pp. 2271-2286. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-01-2016-0015

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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