Have you heard the news? Starting today, companies in Europe can use house crickets (Acheta domesticus) as an ingredient in a variety of food items. 😳
The list of products targeted includes baked goods such as multigrain bread and rolls, crackers, breadsticks, cereal bars and biscuits, but also sauces, pizza, processed potato products, soups, chocolate products, nuts and oilseeds, and even beer. These are products in which consumers do not usually expect to find animal parts.
There might be clear downsides to including insect ingredients in food items. For many consumers, not just those already avoiding animal derived ingredients, this might be an issue. The use of crickets might be problematic for consumers allergic to crustaceans, mollusks and dust mites, which could increase the concern for health risks.
Furthermore, not all consumers are happy to eat insects: According to the FSA (Food Standards Agency) survey, where 1.930 adults participated, 67% reported that nothing could make them try edible insects, while only 13% could be persuaded if they knew the insects were safe to eat, and 11% if they looked appetising. Disgust and neophobia (the fear of trying something new, which can especially be present when trying new food) are clearly hurdles to overcome.
Apart from this, the ecological footprint of these insects as food is still significant: for every 1 kg of house crickets, it still requires 1.7kg of feed, and still produces 20% of the methane emitted by beef production. Brands which want to be identified as sustainable and ecologically responsible, do well to focus on providing vegan products instead.
More and more, consumers ask for transparency when it comes to the food they buy. Having to keep an eye out for a new certification to ensure products are cricket-free, or having to read through the ingredients list can be cumbersome.
Of all European consumers who have seen the V-Label on products, 60% never or rarely check the ingredients of a product to see if it is vegetarian or vegan when it is marked with the V-Label symbol. These consumers link the label to products being free from animal-based ingredients, and deem these products as being healthier (69%) and trustworthy (59%).
For V-Label, insects by definition belong to the category of animals, and are therefore excluded as an ingredient for both vegetarian and vegan label! All our licensees must clearly list all ingredients and prove whether they are vegan or vegetarian according to the definition and standards of V-Label. This includes the ingredients that do not have to be shown on the ingredients list of the label according to the law.
We look at the details, so you don’t have to!
This is why the use of V-Label is a catch-all solution!
Authorising the placing on the market of Acheta domesticus (house cricket): https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32023R0005
Food Standards Agency survey:
Consumer acceptance of edible insects and design interventions as adoption strategy:
Consumer acceptance of edible insects:https://edepot.wur.nl/369562