Marketing Insects: Superfood or Solution-Food?

  • Carolin SchiemerEmail author
  • Afton Halloran
  • Kristjan Jespersen
  • Petra Kaukua


In entering Western markets, edible insects are typically framed as the ‘solution’ to a number of challenges caused by unsustainable global food systems, such as climate change and global health issues. In addition, some media outlets also frame insects as the next ‘superfood’. Superfood is a marketing term for nutrient-packed foods, which are successfully promoted to Western consumers with the promises of health, well-being and beauty. However, the increase in the demand in the West is argued to cause negative social, environmental, economic and cultural consequences – externalities – felt by those who traditionally produce and consume the foods. These actors are located far away from where the superfood phenomenon materializes. Therefore, we detect a possibly contentious framing strategy through double-framing insects as both a solution and a superfood. We ask: how can insects be promoted as the solution to the negative externalities that arise from unsustainable Western consumption patterns, while at the same time being framed as a ‘superfood’, which cause those very externalities? As a point of departure for this chapter, we build on the research article Entomophagy and Power by Müller et al. (J Insect Food Feed 2(2):121–136, 2016), who raise a concern that the growth of Western insect industries might reproduce, rather than challenge, power imbalances in global food systems. Our analysis suggests that the tensions of double-framing insects as both ‘solution’ and ‘superfood’ might be the first step of pushing insects towards an unsustainable future, particularly because of two pitfalls common for superfoods: firstly, the homogenization of diverse practice, and secondly, universalized sustainability and apolotical solutions. However, our study finds also that insects differ from superfoods for two main reasons: for insects’ ability to add value locally and because of the involvement of sustainably-driven actors from the beginning of industry formation. Due to these differences, this study concludes that if the superfood pitfalls are avoided, insects have a potential to become a truly ‘sustainable superfood’.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolin Schiemer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Afton Halloran
    • 2
  • Kristjan Jespersen
    • 1
  • Petra Kaukua
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management, Society and CommunicationCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Nutrition, Exercise and SportsUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark

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