Knowledge about the sensory properties of products is necessary for successful product development. We carry out sensory analysis with our professional sensory panel and with naive panels.
- analysis projects using Nofima’s highly trained assessors in sensory laboratory conditions
- descriptive tests (profiling)
- product evaluations
- temporal dominance of sensations (TDS)
- differentiation tests
- sensory sorting of products
- word clouds for sensory communication
- panel management – selecting and training panel members
- training panel leaders
- courses in sensory perception for product managers
- accommodation facilities in a sensory environment at Nofima
- consultancy and courses around the PanelCheck software, a tool to monitor and calibrate panel assessments
- ring testing – comparative tests between various sensory laboratories to determine the quality of the assessments.
The panel members describe the sensory aspects of a product in an objective manner. The combination of results from naive panels and professional panels, and the use of advanced statistical methods, provides a company with unique knowledge about its products. This knowledge is necessary to understand consumers.
Sensory science is the study of how our senses experience stimuli.
We can use this knowledge to understand in a systematic and scientific manner what is required to create products that consumers want. Even though various instrumental measurement methods can provide information about food properties, it is only by using the human senses that we can understand the total experience of food. For this reason, sensory science is an important measurement method to determine the eating quality of food. Sensory information adds a further dimension to research into food.
Different analyses for different challenges
We choose the appropriate analyses based on the issue to be examined and the goal of the research. Available analyses include:
- Descriptive tests, known as “profiling”, provide a detailed overview of the properties that describe a group of products, and the intensity of these properties in individual products.
- Product evaluations are overviews of the most important properties that describe a group of products, and identify the properties that are most distinct in individual products.
- Differentiation tests detect whether there are sensory differences between different samples. The tests are designed for use with samples where the differences are expected to be very slight.
- Temporal dominance of sensations (TDS) is a method used to describe how individual properties of food and drink develop in the mouth. For example: when can the berry taste of a wine be detected, or the taste of maturity in ham?
- Sensory sorting of products provides a systematic overview of how various products are experienced, based on sensory grouping. Such sorting can be based on purely objective criteria with a trained panel and/or an emotionally based evaluation by consumers.
- Word clouds of sensory words and concepts that are particularly important to describe a product or group of products. This can be a useful tool in communication about the product.
Stringent requirements for sensory assessors
The sensory panel at Nofima in Ås has 10 members. Members of a trained panel should not assess whether or not they like the products that are served: they should give a solely objective assessment of the products.
Sensory assessors must:
– have a low detection threshold for smell and taste
– be able to detect subtle nuances
– have good descriptive abilities.
The sensory laboratory at Ås has been approved by Norwegian Accreditation (Accreditation No. TEST 016) for descriptive tests and differentiation tests. We have experience of sensory analysis of fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, snacks and confectionery, wine, non-foods, and many other products.