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Stephanie Rigter
Stephanie Rigter, BAppSc Hons, Consumer Food Science

I study consumer food science and love the versatility that comes within the degree whether it is a technical food science paper or a business/sociology paper. The degree gave me the opportunity to not only have a great understanding of food science but also a basic understanding in other areas. And the student lifestyle in Dunedin is great. Everything is in walking distance from everywhere, including all classrooms and the gym. The people I met while at university made my time here an unforgettable experience.”

During her time at Otago Stephanie won several awards in recognition of her work.

In 2012 she received the New Zealand Institute of Food Science and Technology Prize in Consumer Food Science for the highest standard of achievement across 200 level Consumer Food Science papers.

In 2013 she was awarded the The Brenda Bell Memorial Prize in Consumer Food Science for the highest standard of achievement across 300 level Consumer Food Science; in addition to the University Bookshop Prize in Sensory Science (awarded for the highest standard of achievement in advanced sensory science).

Project Outline

Entomophagy: Understanding Consumers' Discourses towards Eating Insects in New Zealand

Supervised by Dr Miranda Mirosa

There is currently a rapid growth in the human population, by 2050 the global population is estimated to reach 9 billion people; leading to a 70% increase in global food demand. Alternative protein sources such as edible insects will be needed to meet this increase.

There are currently 1900 insect species that are turned into food worldwide. These insects currently contribute to a big part of approximately 2 billion people's diets.

As food sustainability experts push eating insects, understanding discourses towards eating insects is important, to see how acceptable eating insects would be to New Zealand consumers.

The aim of the research is to understand the different discourses towards eating insects that exist in New Zealand.

The Q methodology research technique was used to form a pattern analysis that combines qualitative and quantitative research to reveal taxonomy of shared discourses towards eating insects. 34 participants completed a Q sort activity, which involved them sorting 49 statements into a quasi-normal distribution. Post sort interviews were conducted to understand why they sorted the statements in the order they did.
Data analysis was completed using a PQ method computer programme to generate the five factors. Participant interviews were used to interpret the factors.

The typology of the study revealed groupings of similar opinion-types on the concept of eating insects. A typology of five factors was identified;

  • Enthusiastic insect eaters - Were willing to eat insects for an experience.
  • Under no circumstance insect eaters - Would never eat insects because of the disgust they felt towards them.
  • Advocates for eating insects - Would consider eating insects for the benefits associate with eating them (e.g. health, sustainability).
  • Resistant insect eaters - Would not eat insects because they believe that they do not add anything new (e.g. no new flavours would come with eating insects).
  • Alternative insect eaters - Would consider eating insects if they were unrecognisable or tasted like something they were used to.
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