Mohammed H. Alemu – University of Copenhagen

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Consumer preferences and demand for insect-based food products in developing countries: Empirical perspectives on consumer heterogeneity, tasting experience, peer influence and value elicitation methods

Dr. Mohammed H. Alemu
MSc Environmental and Natural Resources Economics
University of Copenhagen

About the PhD thesis

Edible insects are touted as a promising source of nutritious food which can be used to increase the availability of protein. They are environmentally friendly as they contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions as a result of their high feed conversion efficiency property. Their production requires less input than livestock production which has an important implication for household insect production as well as large-scale commercialization. Stakeholders in the food sector have recently focused on establishing the insect production sector. Nevertheless, there are a number of issues that need to be investigated before the production is fully optimized.

This thesis investigates consumer demand in terms of consumers' preferences and willingness-to-pay (WTP) for insect-based food products in Kenya. The results of the thesis reveal that consumers have positive preferences and are willing to pay for the insect-based food products. The results further reveal that most consumers have positive attitude towards insects as food. Tasting the new insect-based foods products lead to increase in consumer demand whereas observing others (peers) reacting negatively to the products has the opposite effect. Furthermore, the results show that consumers' WTP for the insect-based food products are higher in hypothetical surveys than in real field experiments in which consumers are required to purchase one of the products according to their choices. This leads to hypothetical bias problem. This problem can be removed or reduced by using hypothetical mitigation strategies as shown in this thesis. Overall, the results of this thesis imply that insect-based foods can be used to improve household nutrition and food security in Kenya as the demand is present. Commercialization of insect-based food products can thus be a viable business.

The main contributions of this thesis to the scientific literature is that it highlights the importance of taking consumers' attitude, tasting experience and peer effects into account when examining consumers' food choice and purchase behavior. Furthermore, the findings of the thesis suggests that consumer studies based on hypothetical market scenarios should use ex-ante hypothetical bias mitigation strategies to remove and/or reduce hypothetical bias in situations where it is not possible to employ nonhypothetical approaches.


Søren Bøye Olsen, Associate Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Suzanne Elizabeth Vedel, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Assesment Committee

Jørgen Dejgård Jensen, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Fredrik Carlsson, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Frode Alfnes, Professor, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway

If you are interested in a full copy of the thesis, you can contact the PhD student or one of the supervisors.

More information

Mohammed H. Alemus workprofile Researchgate & Linkedin