Special Edition: Tasty Fat Replacement

Reduced-fat must engage senses far beyond taste

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

'Consumers are looking for products that combine sensory attributes with health benefits,' says Datamonitor Consumer
'Consumers are looking for products that combine sensory attributes with health benefits,' says Datamonitor Consumer

Related tags Nutrition Taste

Manufacturers need to consider texture, sound and visuals when developing reduced-fat products because consumer expectations stretch far beyond taste, says Datamonitor Consumer.

Consumers across the world are stamping out fat - with 60% of women trying to limit their fat intake and 54% of men claiming to do so, according to Datamonitor Consumer’s 25-country survey.

But Tanvi Savara, food and drink analyst at Datamonitor Consumer, said there were high demands on these products.

“When it comes to healthy bakery products and snacks, consumers are looking for products that combine sensory attributes with health benefits,”​ she told BakeryandSnacks.com.

While taste remained the highest priority for many consumers choosing food products, she said manufacturers had to consider sensory attributes beyond taste when developing reduced-fat products.

Manufacturers had to manipulate taste, texture and sound to create a “sensually engaging proposition”​, she said. 


“Take the example of Pop Chips – the brand in the US – it’s successful because it doesn’t look like a diet food; it has the texture, taste and crunch factor to it just like any other regular, standard chip product, and that’s what makes it tick.”

Playing up the sensory positives

Beyond reduced-fat or calorie claims on pack, Savara said manufacturers should communicate other positive sensory attributes associated with that food.

For some brands, like Pop Chips or Kruncher Kettle Chips, the brand name did that sufficiently, she said, but for others there was a need to include messaging elsewhere.

“It’s about playing up on the different elements. You might have something explicitly called out with a brand name or it could be in a marketing blurb or implicit through an advertisement. With this playing up on different sensory attributes, other than just saying it tastes good, it’s about getting more sophisticated and evolving beyond that.”

Drawing attention to innovative flavor profiles or nutritional content could be other attributes to focus on, she said.

Positive v avoidance claims

It was no longer enough to just call out avoidance claims like ‘reduced-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ on a product, Savara said.

Many manufacturers had already caught onto this, she said, with high-fiber or added protein messaging incorporated on a large number of products with lower fat content. But this was something industry needed to continue with, she added.

Nutrition label

“The results [of our global survey] show that basically consumers are looking for a combination of positive and avoidance claims. For example, 30% place ‘low’ or ‘no fat’ as their highest priority, but at the same time they also prioritise high-fiber, high-protein: 26% consider high-fiber as their highest priority in their shopping.”

Asked if it should be a 50:50 balance between positive and avoidance claims, Savara suggested avoidance claims, on the whole, remained at the forefront.

Functional food products remained “a bit on the back foot and therefore is an evolving space”,​ she said, with only 16% of consumers claiming food and drink products containing added nutrients were ‘very appealing’.

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