The Sensory Panel

8 Aug 2016

Article

Worldwide panels, composed of Puratos employees, perform several sensory evaluations several times a week on various types of finished products.

The Sensory Panel allows to objectively measure sensations

Sensory characteristics are properties perceived while eating a food product (e.g. how the product melts in your mouth, how sweet it is, ...). They are key parameters that directly determine the quality and success of a product on the market. 

Sensory analysis is a science that allows to translate consumer wishes, perception and liking into recipes and process specifications. Indeed, consumers are no technicians and, most of the time, are not able to explain why they like or dislike a product. ; Specific vocabulary and methods are needed to understand which ingredients or technical properties of the product trigger their appreciation.

Analytical sensory panel

The sensory panel is a group of people trained to distinguish and evaluate all aspects regarding taste, flavour and texture of food products. These sensory judges act a measuring tools. With their sense parameters they are able to evaluate finished goods that cannot be instrumentally measured. Indeed, human perception is a very complex phenomenon, and no machine can perfectly mimic what happens in the mouth when a product is eaten.

At Puratos, we have several internal sensory panels In Belgium and around the world (China, Brazil, Chile, Vietnam,…). All these panels are composed of Puratos employees, who perform several sensory evaluations several time a week on various types of finished products: cake, soft bread, fruit filling, chocolate, …

The aim of the sensory panel is to evaluate as objectively as possible the sensory properties of the products. This means that the sensory judges have to set aside their spontaneous appreciation of a product to concentrate on answering specific questions about its taste and texture. This is no trivial task: as human beings we spontaneously react subjectively when we eat a product (how much we like it or not); going beyond this spontaneous reaction and acting as a machine to measure objective aspects, is very difficult and requires extensive training. 

Different analytical tasks

The sensory panel can perform different types of analytical tasks, depending on the objective of the researcher:

  • Discriminative tests aim at validating the presence or absence of perceptible differences between two products. They are particularly useful in case of reformulation.  
  • Descriptive tests aim at defining with a precise vocabulary the different sensations perceived when eating e.g. for texture we can speak about softness, chewiness, moistness… They allow to describe and quantify the sensations.  

The conclusions of the tests performed by the sensory panel give precious information on products’ characterization and positioning, on ways of improvement of the recipes or processes.

Mobile sensory laboratory tools

On top of these internal sensory evaluations, Puratos has developed several exclusive innovative tools to gain insights on consumer preferences. Our Sensobusses and Sensoboxes have been designed to collect consumer sensory input on the spot. While consumers spontaneously give their opinion about how much they like some products or which one they prefer, the internal sensory panel describes and quantities the sensations triggered when eating these products. 

By making the link between these two sets of information, we are able to identify the key sensory drivers of liking. 

Sensory analysis contributes to and illustrates the strength of Puratos: combining our internal expertise with an in-depth knowledge of end-consumer wishes, to fulfill their demands and innovate continuously.

Discover how Sensory Analysis can help you differentiate on taste by reading this article