Testing Fresh Produce
When we think of sensory testing and consumer research we usually think of manufactured and processed products but at Sensory Dimensions we do a large amount of work on testing fresh fruit and vegetables too.
Sensory profiling by a trained panel will tell us the individual characteristics that constitute the overall aroma, flavour, texture and aftertaste of any food or drink product. Applied to fresh produce the technique is helping growers and plant breeders to measure the characteristics of new varieties and check if breeding programmes are delivering as planned when benchmarked against existing cultivars. Monitoring bitterness levels in brassicas, crispness in lettuce and sweetness/acidity balance in fruits are typical examples.
Sensory testing also allows you to determine if the method of preparation (boiling, steaming, stir-frying and so on) impacts the flavour and texture and to investigate the effect of storage on the overall profile. Sensory profiling is also ideal for monitoring quality from season to season and for selecting the variety that best delivers the flavour and textural characteristics for further processing.
Testing fresh product poses many challenges due to the inherent variability of the materials and the rate of change after harvest, so special attention needs to be paid to experimental design and test scheduling. Over the past few years we have looked at potatoes, sweet-corn, lettuce and other salad leaves, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and many soft and hard fruits. Our extensive experience of testing fruits and vegetables also extends to consumer research so please get in touch if you would like to talk further. You can read more about this topic here.