Putting Sensory in Context

Putting Sensory in Context

orange juice

On 16th October members of the IFST's Sensory Science group gathered in Southampton for their annual conference.  Entitled ‘Putting Sensory in Context', the day explored how the environment and presentation of our samples can influence the results that we obtain.

To open we heard from Estelle Petit from the Institute Paul Bocuse, France, whose studies of food choices in real restaurant situations remind us that environment has a huge impact on response and that our choices change not only at the start but also during the eating occasion.

Betina Piqueras-Fiszman of Wageningen University, continued the theme with a fascinating discussion of how the impact of weight of bowls used to serve yogurt influenced not only preference, but also ratings of flavour intensity, mouthfeel, satiety and expected price point. Betina had also investigated the effect of  congruence between the emotions elicited by eating occasion and the emotions elicited by the food, in this case apples and chocolates. The impact of negative emotions related to the foods was enhanced when the eating occasion was considered inappropriate.  For example, respondents who associated eating chocolate with guilt, felt more guilty eating chocolate in the afternoon than in the evening.

Next Qian Yang, updated us on her PhD investigations into the links between Thermal Taster and PROP taster status. This was followed by Virginie Cotte of British American Tobacco who described a method based on photographic images to measure visible side stream smoke.  Side stream smoke is that coming from the end of a burning cigarette but the method has application to the measurement of aerosols in general e.g. deodorant and hair sprays.

Before lunch the oral poster sessions described how evoking a context in the consumer's mind prior to testing increased liking for hot chocolate drinks; that claims of ‘organic' lead to an expectation of higher price for orange juice; and how PZ Cussons had measured the physiological and emotional effect of fragrance by making in shower measurements (at Sensory Dimensions!) Product Perceptions described how consumer and sensory response to coffee changed during consumption of the whole cup and discussed how this might affect best practise.  Finally we heard how beer and not cheese, dominates liking for beer-cheese combinations!

After lunch Rachel Edwards-Stuart treated us to cocktails and more food, carefully created to balance pH and aroma volatiles to perfectly complement the flavour and composition of the food.  In association with Grey Goose, Rachel gave us Salmon and Green Tea cocktail, Bloody Mary and Steak and Blue Cheese and (my favourite) a pineapple juice based delight. Rachel also described how music influences our choices and responses to foods…more about this in our next blog.

Thierry Worch followed with a description of how Total Unduplicated Range and Frequency (TURF) analysis is used to select the optimum product range  and finally Jo Hort, gave us her views on the challenges our profession must face for the future.  Reinforcing the theme of the day, Jo proposed that the challenge was to move to the measurement of wanting rather than just liking of products, as wanting is the true determinant of choice. Further, wanting would increasingly be for products that enhance wellness and the measurement of wellness  and its sensory cues, were therefore essential for our profession moving forward.

Thank you to everyone who helped to put this day together and to British American Tobacco for hosting. You can find out more about SSG here.