Norwegian apples taste the best, according to a new consumer test. Imported Royal Gala apples score high on appearance but came last in a new taste test.

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  Georg Mathisen

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What do young people like and why? This was the question posed by researchers at Nofima and Njøs Fruit and Berry Center. “Foreign apples are a dilemma. When young people only looked at pictures of the apples, the foreign ones won in both appearance and color. But in terms of taste, the imported apples came in a clear last place,” says Mads Erling Pedersen at Nofima.

Juicy and acidic

Pedersen and Njøs have had 590 school students and university students rate five different Norwegian apple varieties and one foreign variety. “What they like best is an apple that is not too sour, too sweet, or too crisp, but also not mealy. An average apple that is simultaneously juicy and acidic,” Pedersen explains. The project aims to increase apple consumption among young people and, not least, to boost sales of Norwegian apple varieties. In stores, there are many attractive and many foreign apples. “We tested five apple varieties grown in Norway. Some were developed in Norway by Graminor. Others were developed abroad but are cultivated here. Additionally, we tested imported Royal Gala, one of the most common and best-selling apples in Norway,” says Pedersen.

Agreement with the taste experts

School students and university students blind-tasted all six apple varieties, meaning they did not know which apples they were tasting. They were then asked how much they liked them, how they would describe them, and if they would buy this specific apple in the store. Professional sensory assessors from Nofima’s sensory panel also described the apples. Njøs frukt og bærsenter also tested attributes like crispiness, sugar levels, and acidity using laboratory instruments. It turns out that the students’ and university students’ experiences align closely with what the professional sensory assessors and instrumental tests show.

Crispiness can now be measured

This knowledge is useful when Njøs develops new apple varieties. It’s important that apples are crisp, even though the crispiest apple didn’t rank highest in taste tests. Now, crispiness can be measured with instruments. Such measurements can give a good indication of how an apple is perceived. “We also asked how often you eat apples. Those who eat apples most often are in middle school. Then apple consumption drops drastically in high school. It goes up again in higher education, but not quite to the middle school level,” says Mads Erling Pedersen.

New Lady Oy

Den nye sorten Lady Oy er best på smak. Foto: Graminor

The clear winner of the test is one you probably can’t find in stores just yet. Lady Oy is a brand-new variety developed by Graminor at Njøs. Pedersen compares them to Pink Lady. The red apples rank high in appearance and color, but most importantly, they taste significantly better than the other varieties. The other varieties are the newly developed Fonn and Halo, in addition to the better-known Rød Aroma and Rubinstep, and of course, the imported Royal Gala. Now the question is whether it is possible to make those who buy apples aware of what they really want. “If we want to increase sales of Norwegian apples, while Royal Gala looks more tempting – how many young people and adults will look beneath the apple and see that it is Norwegian and tastes good?” asks Mads Erling Pedersen.

Facts about the research

This study was part of the project “Forbrukerpreferanse for norske sorter av eple” and was funded by ‘Regionalt forskningsfond Vestland’. The project lasted from march 2023 to february 2024 and consisted of a collaboration between Nofima and ‘Njøs frukt og bærsenter’.

You can read more about the research in the article Forbrukerpreferanse for norske sorter av eple (in Norwegian) i Norsk Frukt og Bær, 2/2024