Ingredion: Adding Sensory Evaluation To Achieve Market Success

Friday, October 26th, 2018

In the fast-paced and competitive world of food and beverage products, agility and ability play crucial roles in how manufacturers find market success.

Agility comes into play in order to expedite new formulations and launch on-trend, consumer-winning products. Ability is all about getting it right—across processing, recipes, and the consumer’s desired eating or drinking experience.

To support how manufacturers in the Asia-Pacific region can better understand and explore what drives consumers’ preferences and successfully formulate towards these goals, Ingredion has established innovation and sensory capabilities with expert sensory panels at its Idea Labs innovation centres in Singapore and China.


Ingredion’s Science To Sense

The expert sensory panels allow Ingredion to add a much-needed factor to its solutions— actionable and accurate sensory analysis.

Chloe Gao, Sensory Manager at Ingredion Singapore, elaborates, “Our trained sensory panels help food and beverage manufacturers achieve the desired sensory perception and we are pleased to be able to offer this service to customers across the region.

“The panel of experts are individuals who are more sensitive to tastes than average. They then undergo thorough training by Ingredion on sensory attribute definitions and evaluation methods, all of which are anchored by fixed references to ensure they are able to provide objective sensory data. We leverage their expert analysis to precisely identify which aspects of a formulation contribute best to the final targeted result, and together with our consumer study results, key drivers of consumers’ sensory preferences are identified in an objective way.”

An Ingredion team recently performed a study on sugar reduction solutions for a beverage. They first spoke with consumers to build an extensive knowledge base of consumer insights and preferences. Combined with the input from the expert sensory panel to access and define sensory targets, different methodologies that included descriptive analyses and time intensity were applied to assess the functionalities of different sweetener solutions. These led to more certainty on what would work best as a healthier alternative to sugar that would also build back taste and texture.

The panels conduct evaluations in temperature, humidity and pressure-controlled booths, complete with coloured lights to disguise colour variations that could bias flavour perceptions.

On top of accurate profiling of sensory attributes, the trained panels even evaluate how the sensory perception in foods and beverages changes during the eating experience. For example, they use Temporal Perception: time intensity and temporal dominance of sensation. This enables them to help manufactures create complex sensory perceptions in a product over time, such as “lingering,” “refreshing” and “smooth finishing.”


Approaching Formulations Accurately

The expert insights and sensory information Ingredion curates to arrive at recommended solutions are a powerful way for manufacturers to fast-track innovations and land in consumers’ carts. This happens by way of Ingredion’s proprietary DIAL-IN Technology process and sensory languages.

It begins with determining the business priorities, technical goals and other formulation or marketing requirements. With these goals in place, they gather insights about consumers and their sensory preferences before using advanced mouth behaviour analytics and proprietary texture languages that translate subjective consumer perceptions to measurable scientific terms.

The TEXICON texture language turns consumer terms such as “creamy” and “luscious” into terms that can be objectively rated for intensity, objective terms that can be rated for intensity, such as “thickness,” “heaviness,” “slipperiness” and “meltaway,” amongst others. Similarly, Ingredion’s SWEETABULARY sweetness language connects the consumer experience of sweetness with taste and aromatic attributes.

Based on these findings, Ingredion draws on its formulation science expertise and broad portfolio of ingredients to shape every dimension of the sensory experience and create consumer-winning solutions. Often, with minimal—if any—additional outlay required for production, cost concerns are minimised, thus speeding up the development process.


Make Sense Of The Market

Sensory perceptions can play a big role in which products the consumer chooses. Does it feel indulgent? Are there feel-good sensations I want? I love how sugar tastes, but not sugar itself—is there a better choice for me? For the answers and know-how to act on them, Ingredion is the ideal place to get started with confidence.