Probably the most
widely used online buyers guide for the UK convenience food industry
and its suppliers
Let your company shine out from the crowd
with a listing and press release package on the ReadyMealsinfo Buyers
HERE for details about promotion packages with ReadyMealsinfo
or email email@example.com.
Eating Insects: Cultural And Individual Experiences Affect Perception And Acceptance
Although insects are not traditionally eaten in Western countries, other regions around the world have long considered them acceptable on the menu, EUFIC www.eufic.org writes.
A recent paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference provides new insight into the way cultural background and individual experience may influence acceptance or rejection of edible insects. Study results show that overcoming existing negative perceptions of insects as food must be addressed if they are to be accepted by consumers who are not familiar with them.
In this cross-cultural qualitative study, researchers from University of Wageningen, Netherlands, and Kasetsart University, Thailand, analysed participants’ perceptions, expectations and preferences of various insect-based food items. In order to compare how this cultural exposure affected participant acceptance of eating insects, participants were recruited from the Netherlands, where insects are not ordinarily consumed, and Thailand, where they are frequently consumed. 29 participants from the Netherlands and 25 participants from Thailand (54 in total) were divided into 8 focus groups* based on their previous level of individual experience of eating insects, i.e. 4 groups of ‘eaters’ (2 Dutch groups and 2 Thai groups) and 4 groups of ‘non-eaters’ (2 Dutch groups and 2 Thai groups).
The focus group interviews took place in four stages: discussion of individual experiences and knowledge; discussion of reasons to eat or not to eat insects; evaluation of images of insect species and products; and optional tasting and evaluation of insect-based products. The researchers reported clear differences in motivation, which was dependent on participants’ country of origin. Thai eaters largely mentioned experience-based reasons, such as previous positive eating experiences or regular eating of insects by their families. The main reasons mentioned by Dutch participants were curiosity, nutritional benefits and sustainability considerations, for example high protein content or meat alternatives.
The researchers also observed a distinction between participants who classed themselves as ‘non-insect eaters’. While Dutch ‘non-eaters’ had simply never tried eating insects before, Thai ‘non-eaters’ had eaten insects in the past, but then actively chose not to eat them for personal reasons, such as allergies or disliking the taste. Thai participants were able to identify a wider range of edible species, which was due to their in-depth cultural exposure, rather than individual experience, compared to the Dutch participants.
Preparation methods and appearance of the finished product had a strong influence on participants’ expected ‘liking’ and ‘willingness to try’ attitudes towards a product. In general, reducing the visibility of the insect; i.e. coated or ground insects, increased Dutch participants and Thai ‘non-insect eaters’ willingness to taste them.
When the appearance of a product prompted negative visual associations, the participants were also less willing to taste the product. For example, participants commented that muffins containing mealworms (a type of insect larvae) looked rotten; therefore, participants’ attitude scores to the muffins were very low.
During tasting, Thai participants made fewer expressions of disgust and generally based their tasting decisions on which insects they had enjoyed eating in the past. Dutch participants, on the other hand, saw this as a rare and interesting opportunity to taste new foods, while simultaneously showing signs of hesitation or disgust before tasting. Also, Dutch non-insect eaters were more likely to taste a product following reassurances from participants who had already tasted it.
The authors concluded that insect-food product development will need to take both cultural and individual expectations into account for better chances of consumer acceptance; especially for those with no previous exposure to edible insects.
While European populations may be interested in the health and environmental benefits offered by edible insects, this may not be enough to overcome cultural and individual barriers to consumption. Visual and sensory properties must be carefully considered for acceptance of insects as a novel food source. Due to the limited sample size, it is not possible to draw conclusions on the opinion of the wider population. Future quantitative studies on larger groups of people could provide more in-depth insights into consumer preferences and behaviours.
For further information please see: Tan HSG, Fischer ARH, Tinchan P, et al. (2015). Insects as food: Exploring cultural exposure and individual experience as determinants of acceptance. Food Quality and Preference 42: 78-89. DOI:10.1016/j.foodqual.2015.01.013
Sugar And Carbs Behind Surge In Obesity Say Experts
Excess sugar and carbs, not physical inactivity, are behind the surge in obesity, say experts in an editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine published online.
It’s time to bust the myth that anyone—and that includes athletes—can outrun a bad diet, they say.
Regular exercise is key to staving off serious disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, and dementia, write the authors, but our calorie laden diets now generate more ill health than physical inactivity, alcohol, and smoking combined. The evidence now suggests that up to 40% of those within a normal weight (BMI) range will none the less harbour harmful metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity.
But few people realise this, and many wrongly believe that obesity is entirely due to lack of exercise, a perception that is firmly rooted in corporate marketing, say the authors. They describe the public relations tactics of the food industry as “chillingly similar to those of Big Tobacco,” which deployed denial, doubt, confusion and “bent scientists” to convince the public that smoking was not linked to lung cancer.
“Celebrity endorsements of sugary drinks and the association of junk food and sport must end,” they declare, adding that health clubs and gyms need to set an example by removing the sale of these products from their premises. “The ‘health halo’ legitimisation of nutritionally deficient products is misleading and unscientific,” they write.
Public health messaging has unhelpfully focused on maintaining a ‘healthy weight’ through calorie counting, but it’s the source of the calories that matters, they point out. “Sugar calories promote fat storage and hunger. Fat calories induce fullness or satiation,” they write.
The prevalence of diabetes increases 11-fold for every 150 additional sugar calories consumed daily, compared with the equivalent amount of calories consumed as fat, they say. And the evidence now suggests that carbs are no better, they add. Recent research indicates that cutting down on dietary carbohydrate is the single most effective approach for reducing all of the features of the metabolic syndrome and should be the primary strategy for treating diabetes, with benefits occurring even in the absence of weight loss. Furthermore, other research suggests that rather than carbohydrate loading ahead of intense exercise, athletes would be better off adopting a high fat low carb diet, particularly those who are already insulin resistant. The food environment needs to be changed so that people automatically make healthy choices, suggest the authors. This “will have far greater impact on population health than counselling or education. Healthy choice must become the easy choice,” they say.
“It’s time to wind back the harms caused by the junk food industry’s public relations machinery. Let’s bust the myth of physical inactivity and obesity. You can’t outrun a bad diet,” they conclude.
The latest grocery share figures from Kantar Worldpanel for the 12 weeks ending 29 March, show that Aldi has become Britain’s sixth largest supermarket.
Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar Worldpanel, explains: “Aldi has recorded double-digit sales growth for the past four years and is now Britain’s sixth largest supermarket with 5.3% of the market. Growth has been fuelled by over half a million new shoppers choosing to visit Aldi this year and average basket sizes increasing by 7%. The German discounter’s sales have increased by 16.8% in the latest period, still high compared to other retailers but slower relative to its recent performance.”
Lidl and Waitrose were the only other retailers to grow sales ahead of the market and increase their market share in the latest period. Waitrose increased its sales by 2.9% compared with this time last year and now accounts for 5.1% of the grocery market. Waitrose has grown its sales in an unbroken run stretching back to March 2009. Lidl’s 12.1% sales growth moved it up to a 3.7% share of the market.
Sainsbury’s is back in growth this period for the first time since August 2014. It has brought in more shoppers, grown sales by 0.2%, and as a result has slowed the rate at which it is losing market share – down just 0.1 percentage point to 16.4%. Tesco also grew sales, up 0.3%, while Asda and Morrisons declined by 1.1% and 0.7% respectively.
Fraser McKevitt continues: “The changing structure of Britain’s supermarket landscape is illustrated by two facts. Firstly, the so called discounters Aldi and Lidl now command a combined 9.0% share of the market. In 2012 the same two retailers only accounted for 5.4% of grocery sales. Secondly, the 72.8% share taken by the biggest four retailers is now at the lowest level in a decade.”
Across the market consumers are continuing to benefit from falling prices. All major supermarkets are offering higher levels of promotion and as a result groceries are now 2.0% cheaper than they were a year ago.