How Much Would You Be Willing To Pay To Eat Some Insects?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Many people operate under a serious misconception about the way commerce works. They assume that, absent penalty, customers would only pay for products that best fulfill their desires at a given price.

This belief is flawed.

Before we dive into the details, let me ask you a very pertinent question: How much would you be willing to pay to eat some insects?

If you grew up in the western world, you probably wouldn't pay anything at all. In fact, you'd probably think the very idea of eating a bug to be quite distasteful.

Although a popular source of nutrition in other regions of the world, bugs have a serious PR problem in Europe and North America. The causes for this are well outside of my area of expertise, but dates at least as far back as the Old Testament.

Nevertheless many westerners consume significant quantities of bugs each year. Yes, the American Food and Drug Administration allows for the inadvertent inclusion of insects and insect parts in various foods, but I'm not referring to accidental contamination. I'm speaking about the intentional inclusion of insects in everyday food products.

Why would consumers (who are disgusted by the idea of eating insects) voluntarily pay money for products that feature them as ingredients?

The truth is that buyers lack knowledge about the products that they purchase. Hidden behind innocuous names such as crimson lake, cochineal extract, and natural red #4 are insects.

Information obfuscation is a key component of the sale of many products and services. Objectionable qualities, traits and characteristics are hidden by vendors when communicating with unwitting consumers.

Customers often lack information that could wildly alter their buying behavior. As a producer, one cannot simply assume that buyers understand the items being offered in the marketplace. This fact, if internalized, can prove highly profitable to those who are willing to abuse buyers' trust and highly damaging to those competing against them.

Of course, the contrary may also be true. Honest vendors might see profits increase, should they be willing to expose any such breaches in trust and demonstrate their commitment to honesty and transparency.

For many of my readers, the answer to How much would you pay to eat some insects? is significantly higher than they had originally thought.