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Insects as food: Illuminating the food neophobia and socio-cultural dynamics of insect consumption in Uganda

Abstract

Entomophagy presents the most viable and sustainable meat alternative to feed the ever-increasing world population as insects are highly nutritious. However, the potential of edible insects’ consumption is constrained by consumers’ fear towards novel or unfamiliar foods (food neophobia), which tends to be higher for insects. This paper assessed the influence of food neophobia and socio-cultural factors on the consumption and consumers’ willingness to consume three edible insects in Uganda (the long-horned grasshoppers, the flying African termites and the wingless red termites). Data were collected from 310 edible insects’ consumers from two culturally different regions in Uganda. Results show that culture and familiarity with edible insects are important determinants of edible insects’ consumption. Consumers with high levels of food neophobia were less likely to consume edible insects that were unfamiliar to them. Much as the population exhibited high levels of food neophobia, neophobia was not a significant predictor of future edible insect consumption. In addition, personal characteristics like education and age influenced both the level of food neophobia and consumption of insects. Therefore, consumption of edible insect should be promoted, keeping in mind specific cultural contexts and familiarity of specific edible insects among potential consumers. Improving knowledge of consumers about edible insects and their nutritional benefits could also lower their levels of food neophobia and improve willingness to consume insects.

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Correspondence to Walter Odongo.

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Olum, S., Wesana, J., Mawadri, J. et al. Insects as food: Illuminating the food neophobia and socio-cultural dynamics of insect consumption in Uganda. Int J Trop Insect Sci 41, 1–10 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42690-020-00309-2

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Keywords

  • Edible insects
  • Food neophobia
  • Ruspolia differens
  • Termites
  • Culture
  • Uganda