Taste may not be such a barrier for wholegrain acceptance - study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Wheat bread Whole grain

The taste of wholegrain breads, compared to bread made from refined
grains, may not inhibit consumption amongst consumers as much as
previously thought, suggests a new study.

Taste has been identified as a key restraining factor on consumer acceptance of wholegrain products, despite the health benefits associated with wholegrains over refined grains.

Indeed, Dr. Richard Shepherd from the University of Surrey told attendees of an AACC International conference in Montpellier, France in May that consumers refuse to sacrifice taste over health.

As survey carried out across the United Kingdom, Finland, Italy and Germany, found that consumers rated whole grain products above refined grain products, in terms of perceived healthiness.

But no matter how much awareness there is about the healthiness of certain products, the majority of consumers would not purchase them if they do not bring the added value of good taste, he said.

"In general, most people will not sacrifice taste and sensory enjoyment," said Shepherd.

The new study, published in the Journal of Food Science , supports the view that taste plays a key role, but the barrier to acceptance may not be high as previously thought.

"A segment of the consumer population liked refined breads better than whole wheat breads, indicating that sensory properties are a barrier to consumption of whole wheat bread," wrote the researchers, led by Zata Vickers from the University of Minnesota.

"A large proportion of participants, however, liked the commercially available samples of refined and whole wheat bread equally well, which may indicate that taste is not as great a barrier as has been previously assumed," they stated.

The researchers recruited 89 people to take part in a taste test of nine different breads chosen to represent refined and whole wheat breads.

The tasters were also rated according to their 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) taster status (a bitter tasting compound), and completed a questionnaire about preferences and purchasing habits for bread.

The researchers report that when the breads were made in the laboratory using equivalent ingredients and procedures, the taster preferred the refined bread to the whole wheat bread.

When the bread was made with commercial samples of refined and whole wheat, the breads were equally well liked.

When the volunteers were classified according to bread preference, those who stated a preference for refined bread liked the refined bread better in all taste comparisons, said the researchers.

"Sensory preferences are a barrier to whole wheat bread consumption, but ingredient or processing modifications can improve liking of whole wheat bread to the level of refined bread," concluded the researchers.

Whole grains have received considerable attention in the last year, especially in the US where the FDA permits foods containing at least 51 per cent whole grains by weight and are low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol to carry a health claim linking them to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

The term wholegrain is considered to be more consumer-friendly than the term fibre, which leads some manufacturers to favour it on product packaging since it is likely to strike more of a chord of recognition for its healthy benefits.

Source: Journal of Food Science Published online ahead of print ( OnlineEarly Articles ) doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00440.x "Consumer Liking of Refined and Whole Wheat Breads" Authors: A. Bakke, Z. Vickers

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