Insects have long been consumed as part of the diets of many Asian, African, and South American cultures. However, despite international agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations advocating the nutritional, environmental, and economic benefits of entomophagy, attitudinal barriers persist in Western societies. In Australia, the indigenous ‘bush tucker’ diet comprising witchetty grubs, honey ants, and Bogong moths is quite well known; however, in most Australian locales, the consumption of insects tends to occur only as a novelty. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the awareness and acceptance of insects as food. An online survey of 820 consumers found that 68% of participants had heard of entomophagy, but only 21% had previously eaten insects; witchetty grubs, ants, grasshoppers, and crickets were the most commonly tasted insects. Taste, appearance, safety, and quality were identified as the factors that were most likely to influence consumer willingness to try eating insects, but consumer attitudes towards entomophagy were underpinned by both food neophobia (i.e., reluctance to eat new or novel foods) and prior consumption of insects. Neophobic consumers were far less accepting of entomophagy than neophilic consumers, while consumers who had previously eaten insects were most accepting of insects as food. Incorporating insects into familiar products (e.g., biscuits) or cooked meals also improved their appeal. Collectively, these findings can be used by the food industry to devise production and/or marketing strategies that overcome barriers to insect consumption in Australia.
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