Sensory Testing in Action

Posted on February 21, 2013 by

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By: Emily Wolter

My graduate school journey has had a number of ‘surprises’, as I’m sure many of you can relate. One of those surprises happens to be the field in which my research is anchored: sensory science. I came to graduate school under the impression that I would be focusing mainly on food chemistry, but have had an interesting opportunity to dive into a variety of sensory tests, which I had little  knowledge of before. Applied research is of particular interest to me because it is reminiscent of working on a product development team to gauge consumer responses and put out a successful product!

I don’t think the general public realizes the amount of work and research that goes into that new variety of cereal that they see on the grocery store shelves. However, the field of food science is slowly gaining recognition in the consumer’s eyes. I was recently reading an ice cream review blog and noticed an article highlighting how one company altered their packaging and launched a new line based on the comments from consumers in a focus group.

 
Ruggles Premium Ice Cream modified their packaging and advertising scheme based on a discussion they held with consumers of their product (known as a focus group). The focus group pointed out a number of factors as being important when it comes to an ice cream container:  easily identifiable flavor name, description of what’s in the container, easily stacking containers, and a tightly sealing lid. As a consumer, I think it’s neat to see that food companies are actually making decisions based on what I tell them I want (I am the one who needs to buy their product after all!). As a food scientist, I think it’s great that companies like Ruggles Premium Ice Cream are giving consumers a glimpse into the application of sensory science in the food industry.
 
Have you seen sensory science mentioned in the news lately? Have you ever ventured into the world of sensory science as a participant before? Share your stories with us in the comments below!

 

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Posted in: Brands, In the News