Determining flavour and appearance

Determining flavour and appearance

Healthy and tasty fruits and vegetables can improve your appetite! The scientists of business unit Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research measure the flavour levels of fruits and vegetables with consumer panels, sensory experts and with measurements in the laboratory.

Consumer panel

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Our hedonic consumer panel may determine the flavour level of your products. The panel, which consists of 300 male and female assessors, objectively rates which fruits and vegetables taste best.

Flavour tests for a wide variety of crops

Our consumer panel has already conducted flavour tests for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables: tomato, pepper, cucumber, strawberry, asparagus, cabbage, sprout, pumpkin, melon, beet, carrot, kale, hot pepper, and eggplant. The liking is expressed on a 0 – 100 scale.

Tasting conditions

The panel tastes most of the products fresh and uncooked. For products that need to be prepared we make use of steam ovens, which enables us to simultaneously present different samples equally cooked. All samples are presented to the panel in a shuffled scheme, which ensures that the participants taste the product samples in a fully random order. The research takes place in a quiet environment, which enables our assessors to fully focus on the flavour of your products.

Sensory expert panel

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Our sensory expert panel, which consists of 40 highly trained assessors, is able to distinguish between a wide variety of flavours. The panel members can identify and describe the different flavour attributes in your products. The expert panel is employed to gain a better understanding of consumer preferences.

Accurately describing flavour experience

Ordinary consumers find it sometimes difficult to delineate flavour beyond “tasty” or “not so tasty”, but our 20 trained assessors can accurately describe their flavour experiences with words. They use a colourful vocabulary ranging from “floral” and “green” to “the smell of wet dog skin”. Their shared vocabulary allows our assessors to describe the flavour attributes of your products and express them on a scale of 0 - 100.

Essential product characteristics

Through an intensive training our sensory expert panel is able to accurately describe essential product characteristics that determine the flavour of products. Through the shared vocabulary that is developed during the training sessions, the sensory expert panel is a valuable research instrument. The sensory expert panel is able to accurately measure the characteristics on which consumers subconsciously base their flavour preferences.

Key attributes for flavour preferences

Our research does mostly not aim at describing the widest possible array of different attributes. Instead we may select the key attributes for you, those upon which consumers base their flavour preferences. Flavour research with consumer panels (Which of these products do I like the most?), with panels of trained experts (Which flavour characteristics are present?) and the combination of the two (Which attributes determine the flavour?) could be of great value for you, and may enable you to optimize the flavour of your products.

Visual assessment

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Beside tasting, our consumer panels may also evaluate visual aspects of your products and the effects of different packaging.

Our consumer panels may also assess the visual aspects of the product, with or without the packaging. A visual evaluation may be combined with a flavour evaluation. We use customized questionnaires, tailor-made for the specific customer. The assessors rate which aspects of the product or its packaging visually appeal to them. Recently, we also started with the evaluation of cut flowers.

Field vegetables

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We have also developed practical tools to measure the flavour levels of field vegetables.

Some 25 years ago, our consumer panel was founded for the tasting of tomatoes and sweet peppers. Presently, its 300 panel members represent the buyers of your products. But when shopping, they do not restrict themselves to buying only glasshouse vegetables. On market demand the panel today also regularly evaluates the flavour of field vegetables like onions, pumpkins, potatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbages and carrots. We are an independent research institute that collaborates with all links of the chain. We can help you to add value to your products.

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