The rise of edible insect snacking.

Will 2019 be the year of the bug?

By Jay Jackson

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There’s no doubt that cutting down our meat intake is crucial in the fight to reduce global warming. In fact, food production now accounts for a quarter of all human-related greenhouse gas emissions. This means that in order to avoid the potential for a climate breakdown we need to be eating a whopping 90% less beef. But how far would you go to do your bit?

One option, now sited as a very real solution to help combat greenhouse gas emissions is edible insects. A food source widely accepted in many countries, the little critters are slowly but surely making their way onto our shores. They’re also very healthy, low in fat and a great source of protein. But whist they may have already gained popularity as a fun gimmicky snack to scare your mates with, how many of us would actually be happy giving them a go and on a regular basis? Could 2019 really be the year of the bug? Will they become your office food of choice or your post gym snack?

Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s certainly think so. They are the first UK supermarket to give bugs a go and have just started stocking ‘BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets’ in 250 of their stores, promising ‘a crunchy texture with a rich, smoky flavour.’ The high end department stores are also getting in on the act. Glamourous foodie mecca Fortnum and Mason have started stocking bugs and in February, fashion giant and trend leader Selfridges are due to launch their first pop up Bug Bar selling a full range of products and introducing shoppers to recipes, trying to persuade us that bugs are the next must try product.

Eat Grub

Eat Grub Insect Snacks. Now stocked in 250 Sainsbury's stores.

But let’s not get carried away just yet. Whilst two billion people worldwide regularly consumer edible insects, the UK hasn’t been won round completely and research shows that consumer disgust is the major factor. Have a think about it. Would you really be happy to swap your bag of cashews for a big bowl of bugs or does the thought of it make your skin crawl? Well, maybe we’re just being sold them the wrong way.

According to new research in Germany and Switzerland, in order to tempt us, marketing insects as a healthy protein and a sustainable food source isn’t enough. We need to be convinced they’re tasty and delicious too.

In a study, 180 participants were offered a chocolate truffle filled with mealworms. Before they received the product, half were given a flyer saying eating insects were good for the environment and half were told they were delicious or trendy. The latter group were not only more likely to try the truffle but also sited it as tastier. It’s a small study, but perhaps we just need to be persuaded that bugs are a tasty option, rather than just a healthy and environmentally friendly one.

Perhaps we’re not all going to be digging into those crickets as part of our daily routine just yet but there is no doubt that bugs are here to stay. Maybe it just needs time for us to get our heads around the idea. Who knows, maybe we’ll be stocking them very soon! Would you be tempted to try a new, healthy, environmentally snack from our machines? We’d love to hear your thoughts!