Sensory & Consumer Science

Our research builds knowledge of consumer preferences and behaviour to support new product development.

Understanding consumer behaviour allows companies to develop products that specifically appeal to the requirements of a target audience. Sensory and consumer science includes the most comprehensive methods of measuring human perceptions and behaviour to understand consumer consumption habits and decision-making.

Plant & Food Research has the largest sensory and consumer science research group in the Southern Hemisphere. We use new and existing methods to research consumer requirements for foods and beverages to support industry partners with the launch of new products and expansion in new marketplaces, as well as directing elite cultivar breeding programmes and development of new wine styles.

We apply human senses using innovative and well-established sensory evaluation tests to define flavour, texture, appearance and taste. We also apply consumer science to understand an individual’s consumption behaviour and the ways in which variations in foods and beverages, consumption situation and a person’s mood affect decisions. Our research into how genetics influence the food components we smell, and how this affects what we choose to eat, is helping us to better understand and identify the groups of people that will like a defined flavour and taste.

Plant & Food Research is a global leader in the research and development of new elite cultivars and food products.  Our Sensory & Consumer Science capacity is integral to the direction of a wide range of internal research projects and global partnerships.

Our research areas include:

  • Identification of flavour characteristics within wine
  • Defining target traits for elite cultivar breeding programmes
  • Developing quality standards for the food industry
  • Sensory evaluation to support food storage trials and postharvest treatments
  • Testing of new cultivars and food products
  • Assessing the effect of processing and ingredients on sensory qualities
  • Evaluation and profiling the effect of seafood harvest techniques on quality
  • Certifying sensory quality against international standards.
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