Ingredion hopes the panel will speed up product development, especially in terms of achieving required textures. It follows a similar service at its Shanghai development centre, which opened in 2012 and services China. The Singapore panel will now look after the rest of Asia-Pacific.
The tasters have been through intensive screening to find if they naturally possessed “super-taster” status, or the born ability to describe food consistently in an objective and useful way.
Ingredion’s training focused on how to describe a sample’s textural attributes using Ingredion’s Texicon texture language which translates consumer experience into precise, measurable scientific terms.
The taste team’s working environment will be temperature-, humidity and pressure-controlled with coloured lights to disguise any colour variations in the samples they test as these could influence flavour perceptions.
“Our trained panel in China has helped food and beverage manufacturers achieve the target textures and we are pleased to be able to offer this service to customers across Asia-Pacific,” said Chloe Gao, who heads the unit.
“Much of our work in developing products is driven by data and our panellists are like ‘human machines’, helping us to really understand how different products perform on the tongue and in the mouth.”
Gao added that the ability to identify even minute differences in taste as a formulation changes would allow Ingredion to speed up the development process.
Nazlin Imram, Ingredion’s regional marketing director, added that the use of textural and sensory tools, such as rheology and texture analysers, allowed the panel to “quantify consumer terms that could be perceived as subjective or vague, allowing us to identify and develop the technical aspects required to reformulate or improve a product.”
“Now, we have the additional ability to use our trained panellists to get further insight into why consumers may prefer certain products,” she added.