Scientists from the Nestle Research Center (NRC) in Lausanne examined how different ingredients can affect the sensory attributes of a formulation to produce a refreshing sensation.
Writing in Food Quality and Preference, the NRC scientists claim that this is the first such study to investigate the roles of odour, taste, trigeminal perception (cold), and texture in the perception of ‘refreshing’. Previous studies have looked at each individually, they said, but never simultaneously.
How consumers sense food is crucial knowledge for a food industry constantly organising the building blocks of new food formulations.
To better understand the respective roles of these variables on the refreshing sensation, a range of gel products was formulated using a mint odorant (Givaudan), a peach odorant (Givaudan), a cooling agent (Givaudan), citric acid and a thickener (xanthan, CP Kelco).
The researchers, led by David Labbe, then recruited 160 consumers and asked them to rate the refreshing profile of the gels.
All the consumers agreed that the least refreshing gels were the sweetest, but deciding on which was the most refreshing was difficult, said the researchers.
Indeed, the consumers could be divided into three groups for which the refreshing sensation was determined mainly by cold/mint, acid and thickness perception.
“The refreshing intensity of the gels was strongly related to consumer preference. More than two thirds of consumers (69 per cent) preferred the product they scored the highest in term of refreshing,” wrote Labbe and his co-workers.
“However this finding must be taken with precaution as the consumer focus on refreshing intensity scoring may have generated a carry over effect on preference,” they added.
Take home message
“This study showed that refreshing sensation resulted from a combination of several independent sensory dimensions differing according to the consumer group. These differences of key sensory drivers according to consumers might be explained by food experience. In addition, refreshing seemed positively associated with preference,” concluded Labbe and his NRC colleagues.
Taste is a key driver in the €3.2 trillion global food industry and a greater understanding of the physiology of consumers, could lead to strong market advantages.
The results were initially presented at the European Conference on Sensory Science of Food and Beverages 2006, European Conference on Sensory Science of Food and Beverages 2006 in The Hague, Netherlands.
Source: Food Quality and PreferenceVolume 20, Issue 2, Pages 100-109"Sensory determinants of refreshing"Authors: D. Labbe, F. Gilbert, N. Antille, N. Martin