Rights: The University of Waikato Published 1 February 2007 Download

What characteristics do people use to tell whether something is fresh? Why is this important when you are making new foods?

Annette Campbell (Baking Industry Research Trust Initially, the programme that we’re working on is working on snack foods, because we recognise that people are looking for convenient ways of taking in food.

When you’re looking for a product such as a snack bar, it’s really important to undertake what we call consumer research . And consumer research is where you get a group of people together, consumers, and you’re asking them to evaluate the snack bar on a number of different factors. Now that may be something like appearance, it may be taste, it may be odour.

Sam Heenan (University of Otago Sensory testing is providing an understanding of differences between different food products based on their sensory characteristics, which involve the attributes a product has when someone is consuming it. So the differences in the sweetness, or the differences in the odour of that food, or the flavour of that food.

It’s important because it gives us an understanding of how that food may be perceived by a consumer. It also gives us an understanding of the ingredients to select for that food, and how those ingredients or the process of producing that food may affect the differences in the profile, the sensory profile, and then also the ultimate acceptability to the consumer.

Kevin Sutton Plant & Food Research The ideal snack bar that will come out of this research will be something that tastes and smells great, that has great sensory appeal. It will have a long shelf life, so you can store it, but it will also be chosen because people want a specific lifestyle effect from the food. So a lower glycaemic load to suit a more sedentary lifestyle, or a high glycaemic load to suit a more active one.