Can insects increase food security in developing countries? An analysis of Kenyan consumer preferences and demand for cricket flour buns
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Achieving food security in an environmentally sustainable manner is one of the biggest challenges of our time. Using insects as food can serve this purpose because they are nutritionally valuable and environmentally friendly. Embracing insects as food requires information on potential consumer demand as this would determine the success of product development. In this study, we present one of the first thorough assessments of consumer demand for an insect-based food. We assessed the demand in terms of Kenyan consumer preferences and willingness to pay for buns containing varying amounts of cricket flour. We also assessed demand by predicting the market share in a presumed market scenario. The study used an incentivized discrete choice experiment integrated with sensory evaluations. This was intended to reduce any hypothetical bias and to allow participants to acquire experience by tasting the buns. We found significant and positive preferences for the cricket-flour-based buns. The bun products with medium amounts (5%) of cricket flour were preferred to no or high amounts (10%) of cricket flour. Market share predictions showed that cricket-flour-based buns were likely to obtain greater market shares than standard buns. Results also suggested that a market for breads made with cricket flour is likely in Kenya since the demand is present. This signals that insect-based food products may serve as a viable and demand-driven way to increase food security in Kenya in the future.
KeywordsFood security Insects Incentivized discrete choice experiment Kenya Sensory evaluation Willingness to pay
Funding for this research was provided by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, through the GREEiNSECT (13-06KU) project. We are grateful to the management of the Department of Food Science and Technology at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology for their permission to use the facilities of the Food Processing Workshop Unit for baking the buns for the field experiment. We thank the technical assistants of the laboratory for their assistance in baking and transporting the buns to the field. We also thank two anonymous reviewers and the deputy editor-in-chief of Food Security for their valuable comments.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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