Consumers described the mutton roast with the words lean, juicy, mild, beef and tender among others. Illustration: Nofima

Project Year 2015

Mutton has large potential

You may make lamb and cabbage stew using mutton instead of lamb. Many people won't be able to taste the difference.

In a research project where the goal is to develop tasteful products from mutton and lamb, tests have been carried out both with Nofima’s sensory panel – professional sensory assessors – and among regular consumers. The main conclusion is that the use of mutton has a large potential.

“We believe that we only like lamb, but our tests show that consumers in most cases think mutton tastes just as good. “The results from our tests show that in a blind test many of us can’t tell the difference between meat from a nine month-old lamb and a four year-old sheep,” says project leader Kristine S. Myhrer of Nofima.

The purpose of the ongoing project is to study the potential for mutton on the market. The study is a part of a larger NFR project where Nortura is the owner, and Animalia, NMBU and Nofima are partners. The project-goal is better exploitation of raw materials and increased added value.

The test was carried out in March 2015 with 90 consumers who were served three samples of mutton and three samples of lamb. All samples were taken from the animals’ legs.

The consumers were presented a total of 36 descriptive terms to choose from. Their responses can be seen in the “word cloud” illustrating this article.

Finally, the consumers were asked to complete a questionnaire on their consumption of lamb and mutton, and their perceptions of the two types of meat.

“When consumers are asked to choose what they would serve for Easter dinner or for the autumn’s traditional lamb and cabbage stew, the vast majority choose lamb rather than mutton. However, the truth is that consumers don’t perceive large differences between lamb and mutton when they don’t know what they’re eating. Some of the consumers in the study also mixed lamb with pork, and mutton with beef,” Myhrer says.

None of the samples registered a woollen flavour, which mutton sometimes has a reputation for.

Nortura, Animalia and the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

The Research Council of Norway and Nortura

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