The ability to measure and analyse sensory perception opens new possibilities for innovation and quality control. Our scientists are international leaders in the field of sensometrics – the academic discipline that unites sensory perception with mathematics and statistics.
- methods to understand the interaction between the sensory properties of a product, product information, and consumer surveys
- methods to segment consumers and to identify individual differences
- analysis of sensory descriptions
- the Consumercheck and Panelcheck software packages.
Sensometrics became established as a science during the 1980s, and has since then acquired ever greater significance, as industrial competition has increased and requirements for the documentation of quality have become stricter. The subject covers the use of analysis and measurement tools for sight, smell, touch, flavour and sound. The usefulness of the results can be increased by using statistical methods to analyse the data from sensory testing.
Research in sensometrics uses in particular a set of methods known as “multivariate analysis”, which can deal with large quantities of data and all variables at the same time. Multivariate methods are extremely important to gain an overall understanding of the data, and to be able to predict quality. This concerns, for example, quality control of panels of assessors, segmentation of consumers and the coupling between sensory perception and consumer data. Developing relevant and user-friendly methods is an important aspect of the work carried out by scientists at Nofima.
Food products are perceived by consumers not only as properties (sour, soft, sweet), but also as preferences (large, tasty, nasty). These preferences together form the basis for the assessments that consumers make (must have, can wait, not interesting), and the actions they carry out (buy, discard, eat).
There are fascinating connections along this complete chain of events – from who we are, via our intended behaviour to our actual behaviour. It is to analyse just such connections that our scientists develop statistical models. Two of the software packages they have developed are Consumercheck and Panelcheck. ConsumerCheck makes it possible for food producers to map the correlations between consumer preferences and sensory properties. PanelCheck provides methods to test and maintain sensory panels. Both of these programs are available at: http://nofimamodeling.org/software-downloads/.