During my 30-year career in the sensory and consumer research industry, I’ve found that some of the most misused and misunderstood tests by food manufacturers are difference tests, which determine if the attributes of two food products are different. One common difference test is a triangle test, which presents panelists in a study with three different samples to taste. Two of the samples are from the same product and one is from a different product. The test determines if the panelists are able to pick out the sample of the different product from the three presented. Continue Reading

Programs that help retailers and restaurateurs improve the quality of their products are worth their weight in gold, but who has the budget to support them? In this era of big data, it seems that insights and monitoring programs can equate to big money, but how can these insights help improve your operations as a food manufacturer? In particular, a program that tests products early in the supply chain gives your quality assurance (QA) team time to divert a substandard product from heading into the hands of consumers and creating a loss of brand equity. Continue Reading

Today, there seem to be more grocery store chains than ever before. However, despite the variety of options, if you explore any of them you will find a similar pattern – an expansive brand of products unique to that store, otherwise known as a Private Label Brand. In recent years, chain-style grocery stores have shifted their focus to increasing their brand recognition. In order to accomplish that, they need to deliver quality consumer packaged goods at a competitive price. The resulting “private label war” has been driving down the prices of store brand food products, thus creating more competition for well-known national brands. Continue Reading

Co-authored by Upasana Hariram, MS

You may have heard the phrase “nutrient stability” before, but do you know what it means and how it applies to your products? Nutrient stability refers to the length of time a nutrient remains in a food product at a desired level. If you are declaring nutrients on your product’s label, then you need to understand the stability of your product’s nutrients. This applies to a plethora of product categories including, but not limited to, pet food, beverages, adult food products, infant formula, toddler food and supplements. Continue Reading

Sensory testing plays a large role in ensuring product quality in the food industry. From determining consumer preferences to testing for product quality, sensory services can offer valuable insights at every stage of the product development and manufacturing process. To share insight into the world of sensory under the umbrella of food science, I sat down with Allison Chandler, the Product Performance Operations Manager at Mérieux NutriSciences’ laboratory in Gainesville, Florida.

Q: Can you describe your role at Mérieux NutriSciences?
A: As Product Performance Operations Manager for Mérieux NutriSciences, I manage a team of food scientists focused on food quality. We perform physical tests, such as texture analysis, color measurement and viscosity, as well as a variety of sensory tests, such as triangle tests and hedonic testing. We also manage large supplier monitoring programs in which we compare food samples to specified parameters in order to ensure restaurants and retailers are purchasing the highest quality products.   Continue Reading

When consumers make a trip to the grocery store, increasingly they are choosing private label products over similar brand name products. Over a two year period from 2013 to 2015, sales of store-brand products in supermarkets rose by 2% to total $62.5 billion in sales, according to P.L.M.A.’s 2016 Private Label Yearbook. Offering strong private label products to consumers equals increased sales and customer loyalty for retailers.

Following this trend, retailer interest in improving and monitoring private label quality has also grown exponentially. Retailers are focusing on ways to increase private label quality, starting with how they choose suppliers and following it up with a robust quality monitoring program. These monitoring programs serve to prevent customer complaints and create customer loyalty to the brand owned by that retailer.   Continue Reading

In today’s social media-driven world, you can’t leave the quality of your products to chance. One missed step and you could face an onslaught of unhappy customers who are eager to share their experience with the internet. So how can you guarantee that quality food products will reach your customers? Go to the customers for opinions first by using sensory testing to ensure quality across your supply chain.   Continue Reading

This year, the Chicago Section IFT Symposium and Suppliers’ Night focused entirely on the hot topic of Clean Labels. During one popular session, a moderator asked a panel of consumers several questions regarding the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) undefined term, “clean label,” and marketing claims surrounding the term such as natural, which has also not been defined by the FDA. Research from Mintel was presented demonstrating how claims like, “no additives,” “no preservatives” or “non-GMO,” are becoming more commonplace. Below are four key takeaways our experts found most valuable from Chicago IFT 2017. Continue Reading