Monell Chemical Senses Center Tests Amazon Food Reviews

The Lempert Report
August 08, 2019

And what they found wasn’t that surprising – that is if you are watching consumer trends and how people are changing their diets. looked at Monell’s work.

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, found that most Amazon reviews found foods to be too sweet. Nearly one percent 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 people’s 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 to 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.