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Developing better, healthier products with sensory analysis

From left: Yvonne Mainusch, Tone Eikrem Nyvold and Urd Bente Andersen.

From left: Yvonne Mainusch, Tone Eikrem Nyvold and Urd Bente Andersen. 

Orkla Foods Norge is one of the contributors to a new edition of the widely used textbook Sensorikk – måling med menneskelige sanser [Sensory analysis – measurement using human senses], published this spring. 

“Having insight into sensory analysis gives us a competitive advantage,” says Orkla Foods Norge product developer Tone Eikrem Nyvold.

The book provides a broad introduction to the field of sensory analysis, covering both basic, practical knowledge and the latest research.

“With insight into how our senses react when we eat and drink, we can develop products that not only taste good but also have other benefits, such as lower salt, sugar and fat contents. At Orkla Foods Norge, we aim to ensure that our products are better than those of our competitors, and that they have the best taste. Sensory analysis is therefore crucial to our success as a company,” says Tone Eikrem Nyvold.

Orkla Foods Norge has given financial support to the book project, and three staff members from the company’s product development department at Mastemyr outside Oslo have authored two of the book’s chapters. Urd Bente Andersen, Yvonne Mainusch and Tone Eikrem Nyvold have written the chapter on sensory analysis in product development, while Urd Bente has also written the chapter on quality assurance of sensory analyses. Orkla Foods Norge participated in the editorial committee, and has been involved in deciding the book’s structure, use of pictures and illustrations, layout and design.

“Why is sensory analysis so important to Orkla Foods Norge?”

“To ensure that our products have the best taste, we have to understand how the senses work and how they are affected by a product’s smell, taste, texture, form and colour. Using different sensory methods, we can register how products taste and how well consumers like them. Over time, the results of our sensory measurements help us to ensure that our products have the best taste and are better than those of our competitors,” explains Tone.

“How are insights gained through sensory analysis used to improve existing products and develop new ones?”

“Insight into sensory methods allows us to test whether new ingredients and the recipes for our innovations produce the desired taste experience. Such insight also gives us an understanding of consumer taste preferences. Our individual taste preferences are determined by numerous factors, including our genes and the food culture with which we have grown up. We also know that taste preferences change over the course of a lifetime. Insight into the contributing factors and how our senses affect our purchasing choices helps us to create tastes attractive to our target groups,” says Tone.

Taste testing is a key aspect of Orkla Foods Norge’s innovation projects. Using sensory analysis, product developers can measure how well a jam, pizza, sauce or lefse (griddle cake) tastes, and why one soup is preferred to another. They can also measure the strength of different product smells, tastes, textures, shapes and colours. Further, they can determine whether changes to factors such as packaging or the production process affect a product’s taste.

About the book and Sensorisk StudieGruppe (the Norwegian sensory analysis study group)

The textbook is used both in sensory analysis training and the day-to-day work of companies in the industrial, research and administrative sectors. The first and second editions of the book were entitled Sensorisk analyse. Bedømmelse av næringsmidler [Sensory analysis. Evaluation of foodstuffs], and were published in 1977 and 1997, respectively. The new, third edition – Sensorikk – måling med menneskelige sanser [Sensory analysis – measurement using human senses] – contains a separate chapter on so-called non-food products, illustrating the broad scope of the subject. All the editions have been written and edited by experts from Sensorisk StudieGruppe, an independent, non-profit, informal network of businesses from the food, non-food and pharmaceuticals industries, as well as research and development institutions and analysis laboratories, formed in 1972. The common denominator among Orkla and its 20+ fellow members is engagement in the field of sensory analysis.

What is sensory analysis?

Sensory analysis is the field of study focusing on humans’ ability to sense stimuli by smelling, tasting, seeing, touching or hearing a product. The interpretation of these stimuli demands knowledge of the senses, relevant methodology and basic statistics, and sensory analysis encompasses all of these. In other words, sensory analysis entails measuring the properties of food using the human senses.

Read more about the book and buy it here (text in Norwegian):
http://www.sensorikk.no/ssg-bok/