Men between the ages of twenty and thirty are the most interested consumers, especially out of curiosity. Numerous scientific studies, for example, highlight their high nutritional value as a source of protein, lipids, minerals and vitamins.
Young males and of good culture, here are the Europeans most likely to consume insects as food. The identikit emerges from an article published in the magazine "Food Research International" by a team from the Department of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Pisa led by Professor Gisella Paci and made up of doctors Simone Mancini, Roberta Moruzzo and Francesco Riccioli. The researchers put together and compared data from about forty studies published from 2012 to today to understand which categories of people are most willing to accept insects on their plate.
"Men between the ages of twenty and thirty are the most interested consumers, especially for a matter of curiosity - explains Simone Mancini who is carrying out some research projects on the topic of edible insects - and this applies both to the Italian and European level, as indicated the research carried out on the younger population groups such as university students ".
A curiosity factor aside, from the review conducted by the researchers of the Pisan University it emerges that people still prefer to consume insects as ingredients rather than whole. The disgust caused by seeing them plays a fundamental role, above all because in western culture they are often associated with the idea of dirt and contamination. If, on the other hand, edible insects are transformed into "powder" and added as an ingredient to a known product, the repulsion drops considerably.
“Insects are part of the traditional diet and are historically consumed as farm and capture animals in Asia, Africa, South America and Central America - underlines Gisella Paci - the challenge is to understand how this new food can be accepted culturally also in the West ".
In fact, many factors play a role in the consumption of insects. Numerous scientific studies, for example, highlight their high nutritional value as a source of protein, lipids, minerals and vitamins, a feature that combined with reduced surface requirements, has prompted space agencies to study them as possible food in space missions. But given the issue of environmental impact, insects would run for future nourishment for our planet as well. It is no coincidence that the United Nations has identified them as a possible response to the growing need for proteins due to the increase in the human population estimated at 9,7 billion in 2050.
"The interest in insects concerns us directly given that in the coming years, especially after the European novel food directive in force since January 2018, we will certainly find these products on supermarket shelves as already happens in northern Europe, Belgium and Holland in first of all, and outside the European Union, in neighboring Switzerland - concludes Gisella Paci - in this perspective it will therefore be necessary to think about breeding and transformation processes in terms of investment and new management strategies, all combined with an essential information and communicative to increase the acceptability of insects in western culture, which leverages economic, environmental and social aspects ".