Project Year 2015
Learn to taste yourself
Small and large food producers now have the opportunity to employ a quick method to determine which products should make it to market.
Which cocoa drink should we put on the market – the one with extra milk, the one with extra sugar, or the one with vanilla? These are the type of questions food producers ask themselves when considering putting new products on the shelves. Now there exist new opportunities to find the answer.
“Professional tasters, such as those in Nofima’s sensory panel, can provide the most accurate answers. But now there’s also a simpler option,” says senior researcher Paula Varela Tomasco.
In the “RapidCheck” project Nofima is developing methods that enable the food producers themselves to perform sensory assessments of their products – through taste, smell, visual impression and texture. One of the methods is called PSP – “Polarized Sensory Positioning”.
The method is particularly useful during the initial and final stages of product development. Anyone can use it, and it is a four-stage process. First the test product is compared to reference samples – for example competing products one wants to resemble or distinguish oneself from, or own products. How similar or different are they? When the degree of similarity is established, one uses words to describe what characterizes the product.
The words are entered into a computerized system. Here the frequency of words is tabulated. The data is subjected to multivariate data analysis – statistical analysis with several simultaneous variables – and a product map is generated. When this is combined with surveys of what consumers like, one has a good basis for choosing which prototypes to introduce to market.
“For food companies checking quality or working on product development, this is both a simpler, faster and cheaper way of assessing products,” says senior researcher Tormod Næs, who heads the statistics part of the project.
Research is being carried out in close cooperation with major industry players. Nofima also offers courses to companies wishing to employ sensory methods, so that they may ensure that they are used correctly and that the results are correctly interpreted.
IN COOPERATION WITH:
Tine, Nortura, Bama, Orkla and Coop Norge
The Research council of Norway and the Foundation for Research Levy on Agricultural Products (FFL)