Insect Protein


Insects have been identified as a healthier and more sustainable protein alternative.
How would you encourage developed countries consumers to try and increase their insect protein intake?

Sustainable Agriculture
Food Industry
Food Processing
Food & Beverage
Food Science
Food Technology
Food Manufacturing
Food Security
Food Security and Nutrition
Insect Rearing
insects as foodstuffs
Insects for Feed
Edible Insects
Dror Tamir
13 months ago

8 answers


The trick for more conservative western consumers would be to divorce it ftom "the creepy crawlies". Blend it into products like burgers amd sausages so it reduced the mammalian protein load, but isn't as obviously insect. That way you'd, slowly, start to get people used to the idea.

Lee Reece
13 months ago
Right! Will you try it? - Dror 13 months ago
Have done so many times on business trips and holidays in the Far East. Fried silk worms are delicious! - Lee 13 months ago
Cool! Had mealworms before. Never tried Silk worms. - Dror 13 months ago
I agree with Lee. Name and image are one of the key barriers. Clear examples in the past- "dried plums" vs "prunes" for example greatly increased sales. Also, taste profile is also an issue which needs to be addressed. Cricket flour for example has a unique protein and lipid taste profile which is different fro other protein sources. - Steven 12 months ago
I agree with Steven. I don't see how people can be fine with eating chicken livers and such and have a problem with insects. Give it a good name, ensure its purity, and promote its positive nutrtion and taste and we're off to the races. - Michael 12 months ago

Hi! There are a few issues that need to be addressed. The functionality has been discussed. But its use to fortify other food systems is worthy of exploring, i.e., the way soy is added to meat products to increase protein content. But there are other concerns -- one is the general issue of consumer acceptability. And as a subset of that is the specific issue of how the Muslim scholars will react -- remember that 1/5 or more of the world's population is Muslim and the choice of insects and how that material is handled will be important. Cheers.

Joe Regenstein
13 months ago
Good point. By the way, grasshoppers are Kosher and Halal! - Dror 13 months ago
Hi! Yes, I am quite aware as I am the head of the Cornell Kosher and Halal Food Initiative. But there are only some grasshoppers that are kosher. There needs to be a tradition. And for Ashkenazic Jews the question of its kosher status is more likely to not be acceptable. So one needs to be careful. Shalom/Salaam. - Joe 13 months ago
You are correct. We grow the kosher grasshopper. It is considered Parve... - Dror 13 months ago

All great points !!
I still see the issues that you all are missing.
Some insects are venomous or excreate a deteirant toxin against prey.
When it comes to feeding insects there are rules already in place.
Careful study of the demographics ( Insects ) and the geographic area, must be done and separated from toxic to edible.
Take the Blowfish for instance, many have died, trying to find an alternative to the blowfish that is a delicacy, yet cut by the untrained hand can have dier consequences.
Sorry for my typo's.. I am a Chef, not a typist..

Robert Disano
13 months ago
No toxic insects in our farm - Dror 13 months ago
No one is saying that we should eat any insect regardless of its properties. In the same way that fish eaters know not to eat certain parts of shark. The point is, selected and processed properly, it's a viable protein source. - Michael 12 months ago

The biggest problem with insect proteins is their functionality. They don't function very well compare to when vegetable proteins are used. For example, gluten protein from wheat has a strong visco-elastic property that helps bakers make a very good expanded bread, or teff protein has a nice gel forming ability that helps food producers use it in ther products. Rice protein, amaranth, chickpea and many more vegetable proteins are other examples. These cereals are full in fiber and nutrients as well. So, I believe the main reason that the food industry has not yet shown good interest in insect ptorins is that this protein does not help them much in food processing. If you find a way to solve the problem with functionality of insect protein, such as processing the protein itself or introducing another ingridient that helps in fucntionality, I amm sure the food industry trend will change toward using insects a lot, and when the food industry uses it people will be encourage to try it.

Jamshid Rahimi
13 months ago
How about using it as a replacement to animal source protein? - Dror 13 months ago
Cricket flour is already being used as a protein source in some nutraceutical products. But Jamshid is correct that its not easy to use. - Janice E. 13 months ago

Across the world insects are consumed in different regions and in many cases they are considered as delicacy. Tourists visting these places actually sample these food. Media channels like Food channels on TV talk a lot about these and people's experiences. If we can use the digital and social media to highlight insect protien being introduced as a special delicacy rather than a sustainable alternative, it will work. It will not happen overnight, but if it real great tasting, it will catch up.

Amit Chakrabortty
13 months ago
Agreed - Dror 13 months ago

As others have shared dispelling the common western myth of the creepy crawler or possibly poison side of insects and how to get the protein out of the insects. As there are restaurants throughout western countries having menus only using different insects as the protein in the dishes this is however still a fad. I think the best way to incorporate insects into the western diet is using them as a value add to meat as the protein input, as many insects are very high in protein and other vitamins this can help in marketing the product and not scaring off the consumer. I have lived in Asia for the last 7 years and have travelled to many countries and eaten many different sorts of insects that are sold on the street, 90% has been very tasty, with some it's just getting your brain to look past the look of the insect.

Bradley Pittman
13 months ago
Agreed! - Dror 13 months ago

If companies can get away with incorporating zinc oxide into peanut butter spreads and chalk type powders into Twinkies, something tells me that insects, properly processed and sanitized shouldn't be a problem...particularly if marketed appealingly as a wholesome protein source.

Michael Fruhling
13 months ago
Thank you for the insight! - Dror 13 months ago

Integration of insects into diets needs to start at early as possible by the caregiver (start under age 5). This way, the practice becomes the norm regardless if introduction is in low- or high-income countries. The other option mentioned in previous posts is to extract the nutrition qualities through processing. Eating cricket flour is much easier than eating a whole cricket.

Amy B
12 months ago

Have some input?