Contrary to what you might want to think, the answer is not “both.” Your products may be both healthy and delicious, but when it comes to what they look like, research shows that it’s one or the other.
We briefly touched on this topic in a recent article about why appearances matter for bakery products. Here, we’ll dig into the research and what it means for bakery manufacturers who want to appeal to consumers’ desire for products that taste good and are also good for them.
Taste vs. health: What the data says
Researchers at Anglia Ruskin University in the UK had study participants rate six types of oat cookies, which were identical except for their surface texture. They chose oat cookies specifically because they can be considered both “healthy” and “unhealthy” — healthy because they’re made of oats, and unhealthy because they’re cookies.
Based on visual appearance alone, subjects rated the cookies on six attributes:
- The likelihood that the subjects would purchase the cookies
The results show that the surface texture determined how participants perceived the cookies:
- There was an inverse relationship between perceived tastiness and perceived healthiness — i.e., as perceived healthiness went down, perceived tastiness went up.
- Perceived healthiness was associated with cookies that had “an explicit, pronounced texture.” Cookies with a smoother texture were perceived as tastier and crunchier.
- Most importantly, the likelihood of purchase increased for tasty-looking cookies and decreased for healthy-looking cookies.
How bakery manufacturers can use the data to improve their products and boost sales
The results have the most significant implications for producers of healthy baked products, suggesting that they can make them look more indulgent (and thus increase sales) by changing the surface texture.
Cathrine Jansson-Boyd, the lead researcher, commented:
“The findings are really exciting as they give food manufacturers a means to design foods that can help consumers make healthier choices.
A sweet item, such as a biscuit, benefits from having an appearance as being less healthy as that increases the perception of tastiness and increases the likelihood of purchase. To guide healthier purchasing decisions, food producers can therefore look to use non-healthy looking, smoother textures to overcome this perception that healthy is not tasty.”
The equipment you use to make your products has a big impact on how those products look. Contact us for tips about to improve your current process or to discuss a new product application.