A Sense of Change - Report
9:30am: Professional Food Sensory Group (PFSG) Chair, Joanne Hort, enthusiastically opened this year’s PFSG conference, ‘a sense of change’. After introducing IFST and promoting the group’s membership of E3S, delegates looked forward to getting a ‘taste’ of some of the latest techniques in sensory science, as Joanne Hort highlighted that the best sensory science takes place in Europe.
09:45: David Mela, of the Unilever Food and Health Research Institute asked ‘is it more important to be wanted or liked?’ setting the scene for a packed day at the conference. David, a nutritionist, discussed the challenges of sustained consumer acceptance of healthy foods. He presented some interesting data, showing that liking a product and desiring it were two very different things. Finding a way to replace the reward value of fat and energy in healthier products is key as “health doesn’t sell health”.
10.45: PFSG 2011 travel award winner, May Ng, built on this theme, presenting her research on ‘emotional background to beverage choice’. May began by demonstrating how a Coca Cola advert focusses on emotion and pleasure, going beyond liking. May’s compelling evidence on blind tastings of blackcurrant drinks showed that emotional response to a product could be different whereas hedonic response (liking) was the same.
11.15: Lauren Rogers and Melissa Spears began their joint presentation by showing the audience a number of very familiar sensory claims and discussing how they were substantiated without the guidance of UK legislation, as there is none for this purpose. Melissa Spears followed on from this by giving a retailer’s perspective on non-food items and profiling how much research went behind substantiating these claims.
11:45: After a compelling morning of presentations, it was time for an extended lunch and networking session, as well as the opportunity to view the 20 academic posters that had been submitted to the conference. Delegates also tasted chocolate using Pascal Schlich’s ‘Temporal Dominance Sensations’ (TDS) technique, ahead of his afternoon keynote session.
: After lunch, delegates were split into two groups to take part in two workshops and experience some practical applications of sensory science.
Workshop 1: Dr Caroline Chaya’s group took part in an experimental auction, a technique to investigate consumer ‘willingness to pay’ for two cheese products. Participants were given a sample of two different cheeses and then had to say how much they would be willing to pay for 100g of the cheese. This was the starting point to a series of related exercise which demonstrated that willingness to pay is actually a better indication of desire to buy than liking.
Workshop 2: Duncan Smith of Mindlab gave his group a taste of ‘neuro-marketing’ - new technologies from the field of psychology that could help understand consumer behaviour. After explaining to the group that 90% of thought is unconscious, he demonstrated use of techniques such as Eye-Tracking, Implicit Association and Electroencephalography (EEG) to illustrate that what we say is not always what we think.
16:00: Pascal Schlich, of INRA, France presented his relatively new technique, TDS, which gives a sensory profile of the dominant sensory perceptions during the tasting of a product. Using different types of chocolate as an example, delegates selected the dominant taste sensations of each sample from a list. Unlike conventional taste testing, the participant could actually do this at home, using a unique user code and identifying the samples based on their labels. Delegates saw the TDS results
16:45: Joanne Hort wrapped up the conference with a Q&A after a well-received day.
Visit the conference podcasts and presentations page to find out more.