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Can we learn to love cheese? It depends on the variety

Post a commentBy RJ Whitehead , 12-Jun-2017

Parmigiano-Reggiano isn't so popular among Koreans. © iStock
Parmigiano-Reggiano isn't so popular among Koreans. © iStock

Gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano won’t taste better no matter how many times you try them, according to a Korean study.

However, acceptance levels for Brie, Emmental, Gouda, and sharp Cheddar increase significantly the more often they are consumed.

In research published in Food Research International , scientists at Ewha Womans University set out to assess if repeated exposure to natural cheese had an effect on people’s enjoyment of cheeses. 

They also looked at whether the environmental setting of the exposure—such as laboratory and family surroundings—played a role in peoples’ acceptance of different varieties. 

The researchers conducted several taste tests over a period of four weeks on a group of young women from Korea, where natural cheese is not a regular element of peoples’ diets. They found that while the environmental setting did not make a difference, the type of cheese did. 

The acceptance scores for the six cheese varieties were monitored over two tests, as well as a third, one month following the assessments. The results showed that acceptance was affected by the cheese type and the number of test trials but not by tasting environment. 

This study demonstrated that the liking of natural cheese can occur through repeated exposure to the cheese, but with the outcome varying with the type of cheese.

It showed that when subjects were exposed to Brie, Emmental, Gouda and sharp Cheddar repeatedly, their acceptance level increased significantly. This was not the case, though, for Gorgonzola and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Korea is often used by cheesemakers as a test market for Asian product launches. Though the country’s retail cheese market remains very small, it is still one of the fastest growing markets in the world, according to Mintel.

The market analyst found last year that most of the growth in cheese consumption had come from the soft cheese segment, which accounts for a third of the market volume.

Consumption in Korea is also limited by high retail prices, partly due to import taxes.

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