Cut the fat, sugar or salt content of foods and consumers will turn their noses up, right? Wrong.
Researchers at the Université de Bourgogne in France tested consumer appreciation of five different foods, comparing non-reformulated versions and reformulated versions that complied with EU laws on nutrition claims.
“For cheese and muffins, the reformulation did not affect the product pleasantness,” they noted in a paper published in the journal Food Quality and Preference. The reformulation of dry sausage and chorizo actually “increased pleasantness”. However, with the cooked sausage the participants preferred the less healthy version.
The researchers also found that consumers are willing to pay at least the same price for the reformulated muffins and cheese – and 12% more for the dry sausage and chorizo.
New technologies to reduce fat, salt and sugar content in the products “were successful”, the authors concluded. “In several cases, reformulation may facilitate improvements in the product’s competitiveness on the market,” they added.
The findings will be of interest to UK companies tasked with reducing the sugar content across a number of food categories as part of the government’s new Childhood Obesity Plan.