Food New Product Development
The Food Experience System will be used to support research questions in the product development trajectory of key food producing companies. To that end, working cases will be identified and consumer studies carried out.
An example case is sketched to demonstrate the type of work planned for Food NPD.
To use Food Experience Simulator (FES) indicators to predict the experienced pleasure (reward/enjoyment/appreciation) and positive mood contribution of beverages that differ in sweetener used.
- For public health, sugar reduction in drinks is desirable.
- Therefore, product developers wish to learn how sugar replacers contribute to the long term pleasure(reward/enjoyment/appreciation) of their product.
- Although replacing sugar with other sweeteners preserves the sweetness and even overall impressions, literature indicates that appreciation of drinks with high-intensity sweetener decreases in the long term. The decreased reward value may lead to over-indulgence in other (higher-calorie) foods.
- In addition, the effect of sweeteners on consumer attitude towards the drink may be influenced by packaging information and the message conveyed in product commercials, which further complicates the long-term prediction of consumer attitude towards healthy product alternatives.
- The FES facilitates and improves the measurement of long term liking, experienced pleasure, reward and mood-related consequences of consumption of complex products and package combinations.
A producer of soft-drinks and juices wishes to revise the low-sugar product portfolio. Reducing the overall sugar contents of beverages is desirable for public health reasons. Reduction of sugar content without a replacement strategy results in less sweet beverages that are rejected by many consumers. Replacing sugar with intense sweeteners provides a lower-calorie option. However, the overall effect of low-calorie beverages on total calorie intake is unclear. It may be that consumer increase intake to reach a total experienced reward value. Reward may also be experienced in non-caloric ways, such as via information on the package (i.e. an ‘all natural’ claim) or via aroma exposure.
Therefore, the producer wishes to assess whether FES estimates of experienced pleasure and positive attitude towards beverages differentiate between a number of product versions under different sweetener information conditions:
- Purely on basis of taste
- With exposure to an adapted aroma profile
- After showing packages highlighting the natural source of the product ingredients.
Outside the actual FES room, the NIRS/EEG/odor release head-unit is mounted on the panelist’s head. The panelist sits down for ten minutes while reading a magazine in order to relax and assume a steady autonomic state. Then, the panelist sits down in the FES chair facing the stimulus presentation screen and places the tubing of the oral stimulus delivery device (gustometer) in the mouth. While in the FES chair, cameras monitor eye-movements, pupil responses and facial expressions. The experiment that follows consists of 3 phases:
- Taste only: Small quantities of different beverage versions are presented in the mouth at regular intervals (normal sugar content, lowered sugar content, sugar replaced with a polyole mix, sugar replaced with natural intense sweeteners, sugar replaced with a mix of synthetic intense sweeteners). Only visual announcements of upcoming beverage presentations are presented.
- With aroma: simultaneous exposure to the beverage and an enhanced aroma with complex and intense fruit aromas.
- With packaging information: Different versions of a beverage are presented at regular intervals. Each presentation is preceded with a visual display of a package that stresses:
- The fruit used for the beverage
- The percentage of sugar reduced in the beverage
- The fact that sugar was replaced with natural sweeteners.
For each of the beverage-package-aroma combinations, the FES produces estimates of experienced pleasure (reward/enjoyment/appreciation) and (long-term) positive mood contribution. This information can be applied to:
- Further fine-tune the product formulation
- Select a product sub-set for further consumer testing
- Select a product version for market release