Clash of the Christmas Custards

LISTEN: Clash of the Christmas Custards

For the first time in 13 years of weekly Consumerwatch shows, we did a taste test. 

Custard tasting

Listen to Wendy's on-air segment on Consumerwatch or read the full story below the podcast.

It was sparked by two custard adverts in the Sunday papers at the weekend, the manufacturers clearly hoping to capitalise on the boost to custard sales which Christmas heralds.

Ultramel maker Danone went with “Trusted to bring people together for 40 years” - trading on tradition and brand loyalty.

Parmalat punted ITS vanilla flavoured custard like this: “Thought your old favourite was ultra-delicious? Taste why 7 out of 10 custard lovers prefer Parmalat, with an asterisk linking to a tiny little line at the bottom of the ad which read: ““Rated the preferred custard in an independent blind taste test”.

So I asked Parmalat - Which independent body conducted this test and when? How many “custard lovers” took part in that test?

What qualified the participants as a “custard lover”?

Sadly, Parmalat’s Janine Greyling would only say that the test was conducted in August by “an independent, reputable, SAMRA-accredited research agency” based on a statistically representative sample of people who regularly eat custard.

Wendy puts the custard tasting to the test 

So we don’t know how many people tested the two custards, but I thought it would be a good idea for Consumerwatch to stage its own Christmas Custard Contest. Our in-house panel put Ultramel, Parmalat and a third vanilla flavoured ready-to-eat custard brand, Clover’s Classic vanilla flavoured custard - to the taste test.

Custard tasting put to the test

Interestingly, Ultramel used to be part of the Danone Clover stable, but Clover's long-term relationship with the French company Danone ended in 2014 and Danone got the custard.

Last year Clover launched its own ready-to-eat custard, Clover Classic, and it’s number three in the market behind Ultramel and Parmalat.

Clearly ours was a very small panel, not statistically representative, I’m sure, but the 10 tasters took their responsibility very seriously indeed.

And the results were surprising - five of the 10 thought Clover Classic was the best tasting custard, three voted for Ultramel and just two out of 10 thought Parmalat tasted best.

Custard tasting put to the test

Almost all the tasters noted that the Parmalat custard was the sweetest.

And they were right. It has 15,7g of sugar per 100g, versus Ultramel’s 13.3g and Clover Classic is the least sweet with 12g per 100g.

Parmalat’s also has the highest sodium content and the lowest fat content.

All three contain milk, sugar, stabilisers, flavourants and colourants, but the Clover custard has an extra ingredient - 4% cream.

As for price, this week at my local Checkers a litre pack of Ultramel cost R26,99, Parmalat R24,99 and the Clover Classic - the panel favourite, was by far the cheapest at R19,99.

If you prefer your custard on the sweeter side, like Darren, Parmalat’s would most likely be your preference. If not, then one of the other two.

Clearly it’s worth tasting the competing brands to figure out which you’d like with your tinned peaches or Christmas pudding this year.

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