Food neophobia influences food choice in school-aged children. However, little is known about how children with different degrees of food neophobia perceive food and to what extent different sensory attributes drive their liking. This paper explores liking and sensory perception of fibre-rich biscuits in school-aged children (n = 509, age 9-12 years) with different degrees of food neophobia and from five different European countries (Finland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom). Children tasted and rated their liking of eight commercial biscuits and performed a Check-All-That-Apply task to describe the samples and further completed a Food Neophobia Scale. Children with a higher degree of neophobia displayed a lower liking for all tasted biscuits (p < 0.001). Cross-cultural differences in liking also appeared (p < 0.001). A negative correlation was found between degree of neophobia and the number of CATA-terms used to describe the samples (r = -0.116, p = 0.009). Penalty analysis showed that degree of food neophobia also affected drivers of biscuit liking, where particularly appearance terms were drivers of disliking for neophobic children. Cross-cultural differences in drivers of liking and disliking were particularly salient for texture attributes. Further research should explore if optimizing appearance attributes could be a way to increase liking of fibre-rich foods in neophobic children.
Keywords: cross-cultural; food neophobia; penalty analysis; preadolescents; preference mapping.