Rapid sensory methods

Marlene Schou Grønbeck

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Rapid sensory methods

A rapid sensory method can be performed quickly, since a minimum of training is required prior to assessment, and usually only few or no repeated assessments of the same product are performed.

The knowledge gained from a rapid method is useful in, for example, a product development situation, where you need to know what direction to go in. There are different methods that can be used by a trained panel (DMRI’s or the company’s own panel), by an expert panel or by consumers, for example your colleagues, who are asked to do the test during a lunch break.

The following methods can be used, depending on what you need to investigate:

Pairwise comparison
The method is based on a comparison of a product with a reference (pairwise comparison) based on predefined attributes. The method can be used when changing your ingredients supplier and modifying recipes, but also when assessing shelf life and handling complaints. Trained assessors or experts can be used.

Mapping by DMRI
Mutual sensory differences and/or similarities in a given number of products are assessed by placing the products on a sheet of A3 paper in accordance with these sensory perceptions. The mapping can either be global (free choice of perceptions, such as appearance, smell, taste and texture) or partial, where the assessors only evaluate the products in terms of a specified attribute, e.g. texture. At the same time, the assessors record the attributes they think best describe the samples. The method can be used as a screening method in connection with product development, for comparison of competing products and for shelf life studies. Both trained assessors and consumers/untrained assessors can be used.

CATA (Check All That Apply)
A number of words that are expected to characterise the products are selected, and the assessors choose the words they think suit the product (they check off the words that apply). The words could be holistic words such as sticky, fresh, appetising and child-friendly or more descriptive words such as tender, crispy and yellow. The method can be supplemented by asking how much the assessors like the product so that you can see which attributes make them like or dislike the product. The method is particularly suitable for consumers.

Holistic by DMRI
The holistic approach considers an overall perception of the product based on the individual assessor’s immediate association with a given product in terms of so-called holistic words such as traditional, summery, child-friendly, spreadable, etc. The results of the method are unique in that they can serve as a link between sensory evaluation and marketing, since the words can be directly applied in both contexts. The method is also suitable for small consumer surveys or expert evaluations.

In this method, the assessors evaluate certain specified attributes, for example salt, sweet, hardness, etc., in terms of whether they think there is too little, too much or whether there is an acceptable level in the product. The method is suitable if you do not have a reference to compare with but instead would like to produce a product with a particular quality. The method is particularly suitable for experts who know what the final quality of the product should be like.

Difference test
The most commonly used difference test is the triangle test. In this test, a set of three samples are given to assessors – two of the samples are alike and one is different. The assessors must simply identify the sample they believe is different. By counting how many times they have identified the correct sample, it is possible to see whether there is a significant difference between the samples. The method is suitable if you just want to know whether there is a statistically significant difference between two samples, for example when handling a complaint, and can be performed by trained or untrained assessors.

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