Abstract: In the last decade, consumer perception of protein as an important nutrient has increased exponentially and focused on alternative sources such as plant- or insect-based protein and microalgae. However, many consumers indicate that they do not consider insect ingredients, a potential source of high quality protein, to be a good choice in food products. But is it because of the sensory aspects? This consumer study was conducted in the United States of America, Mexico, and Spain to compare acceptability of a familiar product, chocolate chip cookies, in three “blind” variations: a control 100% wheat flour chocolate chip cookie, and two versions substituting 15% and 30% cricket flour for an equivalent amount of wheat flour. Two hundred consumers from each country were recruited and scored overall acceptability and acceptability of different sensory attributes for the three cookies. Acceptance was measured using a nine-point hedonic scale and a similar format was used for each attribute. US consumers did not find significant differences in liking between the control and 15% sample. The 30% cricket powder cookie showed a decrease in consumer acceptance. Mexican and Spanish consumers liked the 15% sample significantly more than the control and 30% sample. Spanish consumers also like the control more than the 30% sample. The substitution of 15% cricket powder does not negatively impact liking in this product and, in fact, may improve both liking and protein content. Further research is necessary to determine whether this finding can help to mitigate the impact of insect-containing ingredients. Practical Application: High protein and sustainability are two key aspects being used to promote products in many markets. The protein content and sustainability of insect-based ingredients could make more competitive baked products if certain negative aspects, such as sensory and emotional and psychological barriers, can be overcome. This study focused on three specific countries but products using insect powder as an ingredient have the potential to be used in other regions or countries as acceptable products. With the correct marketing, such products could become a competitive choice in the product category. The food industry should consider and explore different insect powders/flours as an alternative ingredient.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Hatch under accession number 1016242.
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- consumer acceptability
- cricket powder