Valérie Nicolas-Hémar has recently published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing (2022, vol. 39, n°5) her article co-authored with Gaëlle Pantin-Sohier and Céline Gallen: “”Do you eat insects” Acceptance of insects as food by children”.
While recent academic research on entomophagy has predominantly focused on adults, this child-centered research seeks to obtain a better understanding of young consumers’ acceptance of insect-based foods. Two qualitative studies were conducted with a total of 43 French children aged 8 to 13 years. Study 1 (n = 22), based on semi-directive interviews, and Study 2 (n = 21), based on focus groups, included projective techniques and exposure to different types of insect-based products to help children express their feelings and thoughts. The evidence shows that in Western children’s minds, insects are considered as culturally non-edible. Children predominantly reject insects as food because of their sensory properties and the disgust they arouse. However, their interest in eating insect-based food is embedded within experiential contexts specific to childhood, particularly the peer group, which makes insect-eating fun and challenging, and the family, which offers a protective and reassuring setting. These findings advocate changing children’s sensory perception of insect-eating food through sensory and participatory activities. Manufacturers and policymakers should also draw on children’s peer culture to associate insect-eating with positive social experiences, a source of peer influence. Drawing on cognitive psychology theories and the literature in food science on food rejection, this research contributes to emerging consumer research on alternative food consumption (AFC) focusing on cognitive, emotional, and social factors of acceptance or rejection of insect-based foods by children.