Improving Flavour and Texture In Low Fat Cheese

US - Producers of low-fat cheese need to improve the flavour and sensory aspect of their products if they are to achieve widespread consumer acceptance, according to a new study.
calendar icon 21 January 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Writing in the Journal of Sensory Studies, scientists from North Carolina State University report that their data shows that consumers will not accept lower fat Cheddar or mozzarella cheeses if the flavour and texture differ from the full-fat cheese, “even if those differences are small”, reports

“For a true low-fat version of Cheddar cheese to have widespread consumer appeal, significant changes in flavour and texture are required,” wrote Jessica Childs and Maryanne Drake from NCSU’s Southeast Dairy Foods Research Centre.

“If manufacturers are able to provide this product, consumers will be able to purchase and consume a lower fat cheese that they enjoy and feel good about eating,” they added.

Ms Childs’ and Ms Drake’s statements are based on data from an analysis surveys for mozzarella and Cheddar cheeses, which involved 171 and 179 consumers, respectively.

“[The] results confirm that most consumers are not willing to sacrifice flavour or texture for fat reduction in cheeses,” they report.

Commenting on the implications of their findings, the Raleigh, North Carolina-based researchers note that the results “will help cheese manufacturers understand what changes need to be made in order to successfully develop a lower fat cheese that will appeal to consumers”.

Growing waistlines, growing market

With obesity rates soaring across the globe, and led by the US, the market for reduced- and low-fat products is growing.

Low-fat cheese is growing strongly in popularity as consumers increasingly focus on healthy diets. More than twice as many new low-fat cheeses were introduced in 2007 compared to 2005, according to data supplied by market research firm Mintel to Danish company Chr Hansen. In the last quarter of 2007, nearly 90 new low fat cheese products were introduced globally, says Mintel.

Despite the growth, the results of Ms Childs and Ms Drake suggest that acceptance of low-fat cheese products remains limited by the fact that removal or reduction of fat adversely affecting both texture and flavour. To overcome such obstacles, food scientists have followed several approaches: use of alternative or selective starter cultures, the use of adjunct cultures, or the use of fat replacers.


The scientists define reduced fat cheese as having at least 25 per cent less fat than the full fat reference cheese, while low-fat cheese as having at least three grams less of fat per reference amount. This “equates to more than a 75 per cent fat reduction for Cheddar cheese”, they said.

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