Understanding the physicochemical properties of food products makes it possible to develop products with characteristics that meet consumer requirements. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research supports companies with a wide range of expertise.
The major challenge in the development and reformulation of products is to align sensory parameters such as flavour and texture with consumer wishes. Foods are complex materials in which major sensory changes can be caused by small changes in formulation or process. For many companies, the complex physical and chemical processes that occur in the product are a “black box”. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research provides insight into the physicochemical properties of food at all levels, from molecular to macroscopic and sensory. This knowledge allows companies to control product qualities in a more targeted way during development.
How structure determines consumer appreciation
The structure of a product often determines how it is experienced and appreciated by consumers. Take bread, for instance, where the crispness of the crust is a major texture characteristic. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research can measure texture through various standardised methods. In addition, we make phase transition diagrams of physical and chemical processes which determine different product characteristics. These diagrams are used to steer the processes in a targeted way.
For foods with a foamy structure, such as aerated dairy, sweets, bread and beer, stability and aeriness are important quality parameters. We map the physicochemical structure of these types of product in detail using various techniques, including X-ray tomography (XRT). This technology allows us to create 3D images of food at a spatial resolution of a micron. We can thereby determine with high precision how the structure of a product changes due to a recipe adjustment and over time, for example under the influence of deformation, humidification, heating and storage.
Targeted product optimisation
To understand the physicochemical processes in a food and determine accurate its properties, we offer companies insight into their product as well as the effects manufacturering, handling, and storage processes have on their product. This allows for objective quality control and optimizing the quality of the products.
Wageningen Food & Biobased Research understands better than anyone that the end product cannot be separated from the manufacturering process. In consultation with manufacturers, we link product details to process parameters. In this way, developing or reformulating a food product is no longer an issue of trial and error, but targeted product and process optimisation.