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Last week, an interesting workshop titled “Novel Food: Il gusto del future” was held at the University of Parma, organized by a student association. I was invited as a speaker along with Lorenzo Pezzato, Co-founder of 21bites, and Mariasole Porpora, Professor of Food Law.

More than 250 students and Faculty members participated at the event and contributed with their enthusiasm and interest and Q&A session to enrich the level of the discussion.

In summary: What is happening in the sector of edible insects as food?

First of all, Dr. Porpora highlighted that insects are considered Novel Food for the EU food Law system. In fact for the EU, "Novel does not only mean new, novel also describes something that is unusual, unconventional or innovative and Novel implies a timestamp". The current time limit for novelty it means that it was not used for human consumption before 1997.

From a consumer behavior perspective, today for many the people considering insects as food can evoke disgust and the thought of consumption can lead expectations and perceptions of bad taste. Therefore, expected distaste of edible insects is a potential barrier to the make this food accepted.   

Moreover, as remarked by many scientists, the willingness to taste a novel food does not imply acceptance because also the perceived food appropriateness plays an important. Although, neophobic attitude towards novel foods may decrease if individuals’ perceptions of sensory properties change positively after tasting.

However, there is a growing interest towards entomophagy and a market for such products was recently born. According to Lorenzo Pezzato “The most forward-looking companies are trying to expand by buying other companies. Entrepreneurs of edible insects are realizing that if this industry wants to grow strong and maintain a position in the food market, then the era of hundreds of micro start-ups is over”.

For more info on our work on insect consumption:

Menozzi D., Kostov K., Sogari G., Arpaia S., Moyankova D., Mora C. (2017). A stakeholder engagement approach for identifying future research directions in the of current and emerging applications of GMOsBio-based and Applied Economics 6 (1): 57-79, DOI: 10.13128/BAE-18535

Sogari G., Menozzi D., Mora C. (2017). Exploring young foodies׳ knowledge and attitude regarding entomophagy: A qualitative study in Italy. International Journal of Gastronomy and Food Science, 7: 16-19. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijgfs.2016.12.002