A new survey suggests gym goers are more likely than other consumers to try products made with insect protein, reports FoodNavigator-USA.
Among those who exercise daily, 47% would be willing to try edible bugs as a protein source, compared to 21% of those who exercise occasionally, according to the survey from UK gym group PureGym. However, more than seven in ten (72%) of those surveyed were not aware of the benefits of insect protein. As well as being high in protein, bugs are rich in minerals like zinc, iron and calcium, says UK-based insect processor Eat Grub.
Eat Grub suggests that using brand ambassadors and social media to promote edible insects will help ensure they are “embraced for the nutritious and sustainable food source they are."
Hardcore gym goers and serious athletes have always been more results-focused than general consumers, who tend to focus on foods’ taste and cost ahead of nutritional benefits. Before sports nutrition hit the mainstream, performance-oriented consumers were drinking egg whites and eating mountains of chicken breast to meet their protein needs. Now, there are many more palatable options, including protein bars and flavored shakes and drinks based on soy, whey, or plant proteins like pea, flaxseed or hemp, and some with added probiotics.
However, for many serious fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, sports nutrition products’ taste and format are secondary to whether they boost performance, which is why this demographic may provide the ideal gateway consumers for insect protein – as long as insect protein can deliver on its big nutritional promises. Quite simply, if bug-based products improve athletic performance more than other protein products on the market, these consumers are likely to buy them, whether or not they taste particularly good.
But appealing to gym goers is just one approach to marketing insects as food. Companies such as Eat Grub are focusing on flavor too, with products like sweet chili and lime roasted crickets. In other contexts, like restaurants, the novelty factor itself is attractive, and companies in the Netherlands and Belgium have successfully introduced insect-based products in supermarkets that consumers can try before they buy.
Aside from focusing on insect products’ taste and nutrition in marketing campaigns, researchers suggest that their other potentially major selling points – such as reduced cost and improved environmental sustainability compared to meat – are unlikely to sway those consumers who are repulsed by the concept of eating bugs.