Fresh Food

An Interesting Trend Revealed in Amazon Food Reviews

400,000 product reviews show that America's sweet tooth has its limits

The Lempert Report

The Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia tested Amazon food reviews and found an interesting trend. What they found wasn’t that surprising, that is, if you are watching consumer trends and how people are changing their diets.

Scientists there ran data analysis on nearly 400,000 Amazon reviews for packaged foods written over a 10-year period. The reviews spanned more than 67,000 products. The researchpublished in the journal Physiology & Behavior, discovered that most Amazon reviews found foods to be too sweet. Nearly 1% of all product reviews, regardless of the type of food, contained the phrase “too sweet”; over-sweetness was mentioned 25 times more than under-sweetness. 

“Sweet was the most frequently mentioned taste quality, and the reviewers definitively told us that human food is over-sweetened,” Danielle Reed, the study’s lead author and a behavioral geneticist at Monell, said in a press release about the study.

The team also found that biological factors may explain why different people can have widely varying responses to the same foods. Researchers analyzed 10 foods with the highest variation in star ratings; they found that the two biggest factors in this ratings gap were product reformulation and individual perspectives on a product’s taste. 

While that may seem obvious, the authors note that perceptions of sweetness especially varied among reviewers, which points to a biological, olfactory reason some people are more sensitive to sweetness than others. 

Regardless of the biological reasoning, I think we can all agree that many of our foods are just too sweet and so do many CPG brands as they reformulate and reduce their sugars.


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