The question “what should we send our clients for Christmas?” is always a tricky one. A card? A book? A link to our charity efforts? There are pros and cons to each option.
It’s safe to say that “edible insects” has never received much consideration as a gift. This year is different. Fifty lucky clients were sent some roasted crickets, sourced from the entomophages at eatbugs.com. We also shared a few packs around the office – to general approval. The crunchy, dusty texture is delightfully enhanced by the heavy duty BBQ flavouring.
Bug munching is enjoying something of a ‘moment’ in the UK and US, markets traditionally resistant to insect-based food. 2 billion people around the world already eat insects: the West is late to the six-legged feast. But with the environmental impact of a meat-driven diet weighing on more people’s minds, canny entrepreneurs are working to change that. Our cricket choice has recently gone on sale at leading supermarket Sainsbury’s.
Are consumers on board? As well as our bugtastic gift we were also unveiling a self-funded study we’d run in the UK on food trends – looking at which emerging food choices, from the Paleo diet to alcoholic seltzers, might stand a chance of mass acceptance.
And Britain’s bugs can breathe a sigh of relief. They won’t be on a general national menu for some time to come. The study found that while environmentally conscious packaging and sourcing was a big winning trend – especially when it comes to plastic use – the “protein filled insects” is a lot less popular. Over 50% of respondents picked “Disgust” as their emotional reaction, leading to a 1-Star verdict.
Their verbatims were unsparing. “I can’t imagine how eating insects is good for you.” “If you’re anything like me, you’d rather starve!” and just plain and simple “Yuk” were some of the comments we got.
There’s a serious point to be made here. The coming century will require new food sources and some radical reframing of existing eating habits. Insects are one option – but they have a huge emotional and fluency barrier to overcome before they hit mainstream acceptance in Western markets.
To find out more about our food trends study, or to get in touch with our Innovation team, email David Whitelam.