Abstract #W137

# W137
Consumer perception of reduced-fat fresh cheese in Brazil.
Juliana Zara Brondi Mendes1, Jorge Herman Behrens1, Walkiria Hanada Viotto*1, 1University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.

Minas Frescal, the most consumed reduced-fat cheese in Brazil, is a fresh and soft white cheese produced by the enzymatic coagulation of pasteurized milk, with high moisture content (>55%). It is industrially produced by 3 different processes that result in cheeses with different sensory characteristics, particularly texture. Cheeses manufactured by the traditional process (addition of starter) or direct acidification (by replacing the starter by lactic acid) have firmer texture than those produced by ultrafiltration which presents a gel texture, due to the incorporation of whey proteins. This work aimed to assess Brazilian consumers’ perceptions regarding reduced-fat Minas Frescal cheese manufactured by three different technological processes (traditional, direct acidification, and ultrafiltration). A grocer’s shop and a consumer research center in São Paulo, Brazil, served as settings for consumer test with 151 individuals. Respondents were characterized by a demographic questionnaire and purchasing habits. Conjoint analysis based on complete profile was conducted with eight different product concepts derived from a factorial design of relevant variables in local consumers’ choices: texture (firm or soft), size of the pack (family or individual) and nutritional information (light or light + 40% less fat). The majority of consumers participating in the study were female, on high income and over 35 years old, and the main reason reported for consuming light cheeses was the concern for health. Conjoint Analysis revealed that texture (41.1%) was the most important attribute followed by portion size (36.2%) and nutritional information (22.7%). Consumers positively rated the firm texture, the individual portion, and the “light + 40% less fat.” These results favor cheeses obtained by traditional process or direct acidification, due to their characteristic firmness that leads to higher purchase intention by the consumers. Findings of this study can assist cheese industries in adjusting process conditions, labels and packaging in order to enhance local consumers’ willingness to purchase reduced fat cheese.

Key Words: fresh cheese, consumer, purchase intention