In a joint research project in 2009, Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research and Kikkoman demonstrated that it was possible to reduce salt in various Western European foods by using naturally brewed soy sauce (J. Food Science 2009, 74:S255). The reduction ranged from 17 to 50%, depending on the food product category, without compromising consumer acceptance.
This form of salt replacement therefore seemed to have potential, but the question remained as to whether acceptance of the substitution was sustainable: slight differences in the flavour profile of foods are only noticed by consumers after repeated taste exposure and consequently their tastes may change: initially preferred foods may become less preferred and vice versa. In an earlier study, consumer preference was measured on ‘first sip/bite,’ which is a standard procedure in consumer research. This means acceptance of the tested foods is only based on the consumer’s first encounter.
In order to test the validity of the findings, two additional experiments were carried out in the Restaurant of the Future. In the first experiment (Kremer et al., submitted) was tested whether ‘first sip/bite’ liking ratings were predictive for liking ratings after rapidly repeated exposure. The results of this study were again promising with regard to the suitability of soy sauce as a salt replacer. The results of a recent ‘in-home use’ test will hopefully show whether such a relatively fast and cost-efficient test might also form a reasonable prediction of long-term acceptance. We will keep you updated on the outcome of these studies in our next newsletters.