Stability and Changes in Food Liking

Food Preferences in the two Germanys after the Reunification

During the 40 years of separation, the people of East and West Germany had become accustomed to different food products. Two years after the fall of the Berlin wall, ASAP Laboratory in Munich and the ASAP Laboratory at the German Institute of Food Research in Potsdam conducted a sensory experiment to examine the stability of food preferences in the two sections of post-reunification Germany.


Around 100 housewives from households with three or more members took part in the test. The tests were conducted in Munich and Potsdam, and ran over a time period of four weeks. The aim of the study was to find out if preferences towards eight different products would change during the time course of the test, and if there was a change, to what degree. The eight products tested were apple juice, tomato ketchup, sour cucumbers, blue cheese, vanilla cookies, honey, sausages, and natural yogurt. Most of the products were represented in three varieties: one which had been produced in East Germany, one from a West German producer, and a third of foreign origin.

  • Do people from both parts of Germany prefer products that have been produced in their "own" part of the country?

  • Do they recognize the products that have been produced in their "own" part of the country?

  • Can this preference change by familiarization with the other products?

  • Are people from both parts of Germany willing to change their preferences to the same degree?

  • Is the readiness/willingness for a change of preferences from one group of products to another the same or is it different?

A change of preferences could be noted for about half of the examined products. Professor Köster draws the following conclusion from these results: each introduction of a new food, which is usually sampled only once, has a 50% chance of being successful. To lower the high failure rate in food innovations, he strongly suggests that the food industry make consequent use of the methods for early detection and evaluation of long-term-preferences provided by sensory research.



Claudia Rummel

ASAP GmbH, Association for Sensory Analysis and Product Development, Munich, Germany

Photo: © Barbara Pheby -