Mission possible: Most reformulation does not impact consumer acceptance

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Nutrition

The majority of reformulation to lower levels of sugar, salt and fat has no impact on consumer acceptance or willingness to pay, says a new EU-backed study.

The experiment, conducted by researchers at the Université de Bourgogne and INRA in France, compared consumer evaluations of reformulated and non-reformulated foods in both a laboratory and at-home setting – finding that most reformulated foods were at least as appreciated as the non-reformulated ones.

“A major challenge is to maintain consumer appreciation and consumption while offering healthier food products for the consumer,”​ noted the research team led by Sébastien Romagny. Decreasing obesity or cardiovascular disease can be achieved by eating healthier foods with reduced contents of fat, salt and sugar. However, these ingredients have a significant impact on the sensory quality of the food products that contain these ingredients.”

The study – part of the EU funded TeRiFiQ project – used a variety of novel reformulation methods that emerged as part of the wider project, including modifying the industrial process, changing the physicochemical and rheological properties of matrices, using emulsions and replacers and adding aromas.

Writing in Food Quality and Preference​, the French team reported that the reduction strategies emerging from the TeRiFiQ project generally resulted in maintained consumer appreciation and acceptance, and occasionally improved the sensory quality of products.

“For most products in this experiment, new technologies contributed to significant reduction in fat, salt or sugar whilst maintaining consumer appreciation,”​ wrote Romagny and colleagues.

Study details

The French team assessed consumer appreciation of five commercialised products (non-reformulated versions) and their respective reformulated versions with reduced contents of salt, fat and sugar. The five products tested (cooked sausage, chorizo, dry sausage, cheese and muffins) were chosen because of a general historic difficulty in reformulating such products, the authors suggested.

“The experiment was divided into two steps that correspond to a pleasantness rating and a willingness to pay task,”​ noted the authors. “The two measurements were expected to yield comparable results with two aspects of consumer appreciation.”

Results of the consumer tests indicated that for the cooked sausage reformulation did not maintain consumer appreciation and reduced its rank positioning.

For cheese and muffins, reformulation did not affect product pleasantness or ranking, while the reformulation of dry sausage and chorizo “not only maintained consumer appreciation but also increased pleasantness, which was consistent with a higher reservation price of approximately 12% compared to the other samples.”

“Most of our reformulated foods are at least as appreciated as the non-reformulated ones,”​ said the authors – who added that consumers are willing to pay at least the same price for reformulated and non-reformulated foods.


Source: Food Quality and Preference

Volume 56, Part A, March 2017, Pages 164–172, doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2016.10.009

“Impact of reducing fat, salt and sugar in commercial foods on consumer acceptability and willingness to pay in real tasting conditions: A home experiment”

Authors: Sébastien Romagny, et al

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