Why insect burgers are not successful (yet)

(09-08-2016) A well informed consumer is more open towards insect burgers. This was the result of a research by bioengineer Joachim Schouteten, published in the scientific magazine Food Quallity and Preferences.

Food with insects is a sustainable alternative to meat, and even for soy. However, the sales of products with insects are still not very high.

Food researcher Joachim Schouteten examined what a test audience of 97 Belgian youngsters thought of an insect burger.

Fear and distrust

When the youngsters tasted the burger without any information, the insect burger was evaluated as less tasty than a meat burger. During the test, they also had to express how they felt whilst eating the insect burger. Fear and distrust were emotions that came forward the most.

Too dry

They found the burger too dry in comparison to the meat burger. “Next to taste, characteristics as texture, juiciness, succulence and how it felt in the mouth were of great importance when rating a certain meat product”, states Schouteten. “This is becoming an important point of focus for the producers.”

Informing better

However, the burger got a better score when the youngsters were informed about what exactly they were eating: a burger with 31% of mealworms.

“We saw that the distrusting feeling decreased when they were well informed. Producers of insect burgers should mention what their burgers contain and what the benefits are of eating bugs”, says Schouteten.

“Our test audience thought the insect burger was more healthy than the meat burger. This provides possibilities for the marketing of food with bugs.”

Wheel of emotions

For this research, Schouteten developed the so-called EmoSensory® wheel, a wheel on which a specific emotion can be indicated, but also specific sensory characteristics like aftertaste, juiciness and colour.