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Testing Marmite – do you love it, or hate it?

Posted 2 August 2012

I love to engage students in research, and involve them in something that is accessible to them that gives them a real-life link on their way of becoming tomorrow’s professionals.

Dr Vriesekoop with two of the products that have been tested

You might love it, you might hate it, but researchers at Harper Adams University College are hoping to find out what the public really thinks of popular spread, Marmite.

Questionnaires have been distributed and taste tests have taken place to calculate what proportion of the population likes or dislikes the product, whether it is seen as an ‘iconic’ brand, and if they do like it, whether they can tell the difference when compared to rival products.

The research is being replicated in other countries that have native yeast extract spreads, including Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Dr Frank Vriesekoop, Senior Lecturer in Food Science at Harper Adams, said: “The research is all about the public’s perception of their national brand and whether they see it as something iconic.

“We are hoping to find out whether the term ‘iconic’ is in the consumer’s mind, or whether it really is something they can taste.

“We’re looking at awareness of rival brands, including supermarket versions, and will be investigating the spread-ability of the products, and how this affects perception.”

Marmite is made from the left-overs of the brewing process and was first developed in Burton-on-Trent in the early 1900s.

More than 500 questionnaires have been completed for the project, including those that were filled in at the Shropshire Jubilee Celebration, which took place last month.

Dr Vriesekoop, who has been based in the UK at Harper Adams since the beginning of this year, added: “I love to engage students in research, and involve them in something that is accessible to them that gives them a real-life link on their way of becoming tomorrow’s professionals.

“We are running this project with no funding, so are relying on the goodwill of participants, staff and students.

“Sensory evaluation is one of the University College’s strengths and this project is one of several that we are engaged with at the moment.”

Dr Vriesekoop and the team are always looking for people to be involved with taste testing. If interested, please contact the Press Office – press@harper-adams.ac.uk 01952 815291

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