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    Companies supported to understand the consumer's sensory experiences of food

    Posted 10 February 2021

    "Food-related businesses are looking for scientific best practice behind sensory taste tests. We are having to quickly adapt to fast moving and uncertain circumstances in the food supply chain."

    food packaging and samples laid across a table as someone in a white coat charts data

    Vital work has been taking place in the Harper Adams University Food Academy to connect food producers to their eventual consumers’ sensory experience.

    Dr Wilatsana Posri, Senior Lecturer in Food Technology and Sensory Sciences, has been acting as a consultant to companies, many of which traditionally focussed on the primary production stage, which see the value of connecting more with the end consumer.

    Wilatsana explains: “The sensory experience of food is about much more than taste. To ensure the end product delivers the right all-round experience when consumer, producers need to factor in the full sensory experience at every stage.

    “'We think consumers know things through their senses and those ‘insights’ could be measured by merely asking questions, but the realisation of how sensory test can be reliably designed takes us further. How humans gain information from the food and its surrounding and form pictures in their minds is intricate and requires comprehensive sensory backgrounds.”

    “Food-related businesses are looking for scientific best practice behind sensory taste tests. We are having to quickly adapt to fast-moving and uncertain circumstances in the food supply chain. Our work with these companies has been vital in enabling them to adapt reliably and confidently.

    In late 2020, JSR Plus+ staff completed a workshop covering underlying theories, test design, statistical analyses and good practice in Sensory Evaluation. Participants represented different areas of the business including sales, marketing and quality assurance.

    They took part in a series of senses and perception activities, sensory evaluation methods, and debate on how to design consumer tests, and to undertake statistical analysis and Sensory test practice. Some of the activities took place in a Covid secure workshop space in the Food Academy, Food Technology and Innovation Department.

    Wilatsana added: “In the case of JSR Plus+, they wanted to develop core knowledge behind sensory practice in order to be able to design and adjust their quality assurance tasks and be more robust. The company deals with farm supply (breeds and feed) and needed to cover the eating quality aspects of their products. We are in contact with several companies during this period to assist their sensory tests, panel training procedures and provide consulting service. Food-related business is facing challenging situation but also thriving for business growth and sensory testing is used to control, develop and measure market competitiveness of their products.

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