Measuring food perception

Taste, smell and texture of products must meet the consumers’ needs to be successful in the market. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has many years of experience in consumer science and can accurately measures how consumers evaluate the sensory properties of the product.

How does a consumer rate the taste, smell and texture of a foodstuff? How does he respond to a change in the recipe, such as a reduction in the salt content? How does a consumer perceive competitive product positioning? In the end it is the consumer who determines whether a product is a success. Food manufacturers intending to bring a new or improved product to the market want answers to these questions. This is no easy task: despite advance consumer research 80% of new products disappear off the shelf within a short time. Classic sensory research is often limited to one-time measurements of how consumers appreciate the aroma, flavor and texture of a product. The first impression someone has of a product says little about how he values that product over time. Along with the product’s sensory properties, the associations and emotions that consumption evokes also play a role.

Consumer research

To increase the chances of market success, it is important to have accurate data about food perception: how consumers appreciate products over time. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has over 30 years experience in consumer research among diverse target groups, from children to the elderly. Together with the client, we determine which method best fits their question. We work with trained panels - for sensory analysis of flavor, aroma and texture - and with panels of untrained consumers - for a quick first impression of the product. We are the only organization in Europe with its own panel of elderly consumers (SenTo).

In addition to lab testing, we carry out consumer research on locations as diverse as supermarkets, restaurants, healthcare institutes and our Restaurant of the Future. We have also developed a unique method that allows accurate consumer testing of products at home.

Our specialists are aware of the latest research techniques through our collaborative projects with leading researchers both in the Netherlands and worldwide. Our membership of the European Sensory Network facilitates our organizing of studies in multiple markets for our customers.

Along with this specialized research, manufacturers can rely on us for in-company training and in-company consultancy.

Taste, smell, texture and emotions

Sensory properties like taste, smell and texture are important when choosing and evaluating a product: emotions play a strong role too. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research combines state-of-the-art techniques to give insight into the impact of emotions on food choices. For example, along with a number of technical and scientific partners, we have developed a toolbox that can measure the emotions experienced during consumption of a product. The toolbox consists of two validated questionnaires (PrEmo and Essense) and a number of advanced behavioral and physiological tests. Using the questionnaires, the consumer indicates what emotions he or she felt. The behavioral and physiological tests can measure emotions based on facial expression, changes in skin conductance, heart rate and body temperature.

The toolbox has been extensively tested in both children and adults in different test environments.