Sensory Strategies for Success Part I: Cost Reduction

Even after several consecutive years of rising prices, consumers continue to suffer sticker shock at the supermarket.

While the number of items in their carts may not have changed, the number at the bottom of the receipts has, and unfortunately, it’s only been in one direction: up.

According to the Federal Reserve, grocery prices have risen 25% since 2020, and although many experts remain optimistic, consumers aren’t.

A survey conducted by Purdue University’s Center for Food Demand Analysis and Sustainability found that 64% of those surveyed expect food prices to increase over the next 12 months.

These increases don’t exist in a vacuum. Developers and manufacturers themselves continue to struggle with fluctuating commodity and ingredient prices.

For example, butter in the EU wholesale market is up 18.5% year-on-year between 2023 and 2024. In the US, wholesale prices have increased 22.4% overall since January 2020.

For companies looking to protect their bottom line and their consumers’ budgets, utilizing flavors to reduce commodities could be part of the solution.

dairy-grocery-store

Sensory for Savings

In your search for savings, whether you’re looking to reduce milk powder, cheese, butter, or anything in between, Edlong’s industry-leading expertise in all things dairy can help you find a truly authentic flavor solution.

This approach can help companies weather the storm of fluctuating ingredient prices, standardize taste experiences, and potentially lead to other cost savings.

Making this worthwhile for developers and manufacturers requires finding not only a great-tasting flavor solution but also the right one—one that results in savings and meets consumer expectations.

Achieving results that can make a difference relies heavily on the skills of our first-class sensory team.

Getting Started

sensory-testing

Once the control product is received, the whole R&D team collaborates to find the best possible flavor match for the ingredient you want to replace.

After rigorous testing and making any necessary adjustments, it then moves from the bench to the sensory panel.

Verifying a Match

At this stage, the control and potential solution undergo sensory testing. Various types of tests can be used here, the most common of which is tetrad testing.

With this type of testing, our trained sensory panelists are provided with four samples: two of the control and two of the test.  They are tasked with grouping the samples for similarity. The goal is to correctly group the two controls together and then two tests together.

After completing the panel, the sensory team compiles the data and analyzes the results. If the statistical analysis points to a match, it’s presented to the customer.

However, in the case where the numbers point to a distinguishable difference, a deeper dive into the data begins.

In addition to grouping the samples, the panelists provide additional comments and detailed information that can help us modify and correct our solution.

For example, if they were tasting a bakery item, like a muffin, they might identify that one sample has a more pronounced buttery note or contains more of a melted/popcorn butter profile. Finding the patterns in additional qualitative comments like these helps aid and expedite the iterative process. Is it as simple as adjusting the intensity, or will we have to go back to the drawing board and correct the profile further?

If a gap remains, several other tools, such as descriptive analysis (which I’ll discuss further in part two), can help us land on the correct flavor match for your reduction.

Once we’re confident in delivering an accurate and authentic match, it’s presented to the customer.

Yet, even with that in hand, it’s more complex than just adding a flavor.

Collaborating for Savings

We always stress, “If you take something out, you have to put something back in.”

This is definitely the case when it comes to commodity reductions.

So, once we have successfully found or created the perfect flavor match for your product, the base will still need to be reformulated.

If you were looking to reduce butter, this might mean you need to find a fat alternative that can serve that missing function in your formulation.  Other ingredients will call for different replacements to ensure the taste and texture are right where they need to be.

This is what sets us apart from others. Our role doesn’t end once our flavor solution arrives at your door. We’re here every step of the way.

butter

Whether that means leveraging our knowledge and industry relationships to find the best ingredients for your reformulation or opening up our facilities and resources as a hub for further collaboration, we’re invested in the success of your project.

Click here to contact one of our experts and get started on your next cost reduction project today!

About the Author: Julie Drainville, Manager – Global Sensory

Julie Drainville leads all sensory functions for Edlong globally, maintaining a trained employee panel for sensory testing, and also collaborating with applications scientists and customers to run testing to meet project needs. Julie has an extensive background in food science including over 15 years in the sensory field, a degree from Purdue University in Foods, Nutrition and Business/Dietetics, a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Rosalind Franklin University, and completion of the UC Davis Applied Sensory and Consumer Science Certificate Program.


Topics: Commodity reductionValue-Driven
Resource Type: Article
Resource Region: US

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