September 21, 2005 12:09 ET

Canadians: Flavour Adventure Seekers

Two Thirds Claim Bold Flavour Preferences; Debunks Science and Global Perception of Bland & Boring Attention: Arts/Entertainment Editor, Assignment Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, Health/Medical Editor, Lifestyle Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 21, 2005) - Be bold Canada! If you can tell a lot about people via their stomachs, then we can debunk the global perception of Canadians as bland and boring. But the proof isn't in the pudding; it's in our taste buds, according to the "2005 TABASCO Taste Survey," a poll of Canadians' flavour preferences conducted by Decima Research for TABASCO-brand Pepper Sauce. The findings suggest that while 75 per cent of the North American population is scientifically considered "Super Tasters" to "Tasters" - those genetically sensitive to strong flavors - two thirds of Canadians [66%] consider their taste profile "bold."

"Canadians are flavour adventure seekers," says Dr. Massimo Marcone, Food Scientist, University of Guelph. "While science suggests that only a quarter of the population should truly be bold in their flavour choices, Canadians are much more willing to explore and seek out exciting culinary experiences."

2005 TABASCO Taste Survey: Key Findings
• Canadians' penchant for bold flavour is rising with seven in 10 claiming they are bolder in their food choices than five years ago.
• Canadians suggest the following reasons for their bolder taste preferences over other nations: a high percentage of restaurants per capita provides increased opportunities to explore new tastes [81%]; our multicultural demographic [78%] and sense of independence [67%]; and the greater selection and choice found in Canadian grocery stores [56%].
• Those residing in the West claim to be much bolder in their flavour preferences than the rest of the country, while those in Quebec claim to be the least bold. Similarly males claim to be much bolder than their female counterparts and non-urban Canadians claim to be less bold than those residing in urban locales.
• Canadians' Top Five bold flavours ranked: 1. Citrus; 2. Hot pepper sauce; 3. Lemongrass; 4. Chipotle; 5. Cilantro/coriander. Other flavours cited but not ranked include garlic, curry, black pepper, Cajun and jerk.
• The third of Canadians who claim to be less bold in their flavour preferences cited the following reasons: bold flavours not being a part of their social upbringing, referring to a meat and potatoes household [64%]; a sensitivity to strong flavours [51%]; and not knowing how to incorporate bold flavours into cooking [31%].

Making Mouth-sense Of It All:
Preference for bold flavour is partly due to genetics, specifically related to the number of fungiform papillae [cranial nerves that carry taste buds] found on the tongue. Those with a higher concentration are considered Super Tasters [approximately 25 per cent of the population], while those with the fewest are considered Non Tasters [25 per cent of the population]. The remaining half of the population, those with an average number of fungiform papillae, are simply Tasters.

Dr. Marcone suggests that while we may claim a preference for bold flavours, the concept of "bold" ranges extensively according to our flavour profile. For Super Tasters this could be in the form of lighter bold flavours, such as milder flavours of Tabasco [TABASCO Green Pepper Sauce], citrus and flavoured vinegars, for example. For Non Tasters this could include stronger bold flavours, such as TABASCO Habanero Pepper Sauce, cilantro and ginger, for example.

Dr. Marcone advises, however, that while we may claim bold status, our time-pressured lifestyles mean we may be thinking bold, but it's not necessarily translating to the plate, particularly during the busy workweek. To enliven everyday foods, he suggests "convenient bold condiments" to add quick and easy bold flavour to traditional meals - keep all of these usage ideas in small bowls, covered in the refrigerator, and simply place on the dining table during meal time:
1. Multi-ethnic: Prepared ethnic sauces and flavoured vinegars and oils, such as TABASCO, Jerk, Thai or other bottled sauces.
2. Dips and Spreads: Tapenade, Taramosalata and hummus are a few bold examples. Mix TABASCO or other preferred flavour into prepared mayonnaise or sundried tomatoes into mascarpone cheese for a "home-made" effect.
3. Herbs and Spices: Chopped herbs, like cilantro, mint and basil, or ground spices, such as cinnamon, turmeric or allspice.
4. Nuts and Seeds: Flax seeds, white and black sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds and chopped nuts not only add bold flavour but nutrition.
5. Grate: Wasabi, horseradish and ginger.
6. Cheese and Chocolate: Crumbled, shaved or grated.

Boldly Eating Where We Haven't Eaten Before:
"Canadians are the among the boldest food consumers in the world," says Ronit Ginzburg, Brand Manager, TABASCO in Canada. Ginzburg says that more than half of consumers have more than one TABASCO flavour on their dining table. Research supporting this shows that consumers desire a change in flavour, want varying flavours on different foods, want to accommodate other people in the household who prefer different flavours and desire a range of heat levels. "TABASCO is becoming a part of the triumvirate at the table - salt, pepper, TABASCO," she says.

Despite its small relational population base, of the 110 countries TABASCO exports to Canada is the third-largest consumer behind the U.S. and Japan [in Japan, 70 per cent of total consumption is used on pizza and spaghetti alone!], and this is growing. According to AC Nielsen, the Canadian hot sauce category grew nine per cent for the 52-week period ending October 2, 2004, outpacing the broad condiments category by seven per cent.

In Canada purchase of pepper sauce corresponds to the 2005 TABASCO TASTE data, with the largest penetration enjoyed in the West, followed by Ontario and finally Quebec.

"Canadians truly love the bold flavour of TABASCO, with the rest of Canada catching up with the boldest of us, Western Canadians," says Ginzburg. "The TABASCO Family of Flavours provides a wide range of heat and tastes, from mild to super bold, that suit every flavour profile."

Editor's Please Note: Photography and Background Fact Sheets are Available.

About TABASCO-brand Pepper Sauce:
The TABASCO® marks, bottle and label designs are registered trademarks and servicemarks exclusively of McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, LA, TABASCO is distributed in Canada by Mississauga, ON-based C.B. Powell Ltd.

About the Data:
The Tabasco Taste Survey survey was conducted by Decima Research from July 21 to 24, 2005 among 1,000 nationally representative adults 18 years of age or older. The results are accurate within +/- 3.1%.

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