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Chocolate is the one of the most preferred food products around the world and depending on the quantity of cocoa used during its processing steps, there are large scale productions of chocolate products. (Transparency Market Research, n.d). Chocolates are made up of various ingredients like sugar, cocoa, cocoa butter, milk fat, certain milk components and emulsifiers (El-kalyoubi, Khallaf, Abdelrashid & Mostafa, 2011). The oral sensation of chocolate and the properties contributing to its texture is mainly depended on the distinctive properties of ingredients and which leads to producing desirable sensory attributes (Hoskin, 1994).
Our day-to-day life involves tasting which gives us an understanding of what sensory attributes is standard for a product (Potts, 2010).
In today’s world, marketing strategy is such that Product Differentiation has become the best method in which the price of a product can be altered according to the consumers preferences and feasibility (Sanders & Huefner, 2011).
Two major types of product differentiations in chocolate are: Horizontal; in which the qualitative variabilities are difficult to analyse, for instance, between a milk chocolate bar and dark chocolate almond bar of a particular brand and Vertical; in which the there is an evident qualitative difference, for instance, between a craft designed chocolate bar and a Hershey’s bar (Final Multimedia Essay, 2017).
In this fast-growing world, consumers preferences have been increasing in various aspects relating to the speciality and distinctiveness of food commodities. As a result, sensory descriptive analysis has been the main tool to identify various food product characteristics with relation to research in consumer acceptance which enable to enhance marketing strategies, development and initiation of that food product (Yang & Lee, 2019).
To sustain in the top position of the global market, product innovation and renovation of existing products becomes a necessity to grab consumer attention. An exclusive taste test experiment is essential in which only the sensory attributes relating to food sensory effects of a food product is conducted in which consumer can analyse the preference and chosen ingredients rather than their choice (Simeone & Marotta, 2010).
The objective of this study is to understand and follow the basic methodology and steps in a tasting session conducted by an untrained panel and to assess chocolate products using the Check-all-that-apply methodology for the generation of sensory attributes lexicons.
Four different formulations of chocolates of the same brand name (Whittaker’s) were used for the sensory tasting session (Table 1). These formulations had different levels of cocoa, caramel, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and sugar. Before the sensory session, the samples were placed in the plastic cups (no lids).
A total of N = 50 untrained students pursuing Master of Science in Lincoln University, Christchurch, New Zealand, participated in the sensory evaluation. Consumer evaluations took place in the Horticulture Laboratory at Lincoln University under a controlled environment and temperature.
Participants were asked to sign a consent form stating the products used for the analysis. One square of chocolate samples was placed in each plastic cup with no lids, which were labelled with 3-digit random codes (Sample Identifier: 147, 962, 234 & 516). The presentation order of the samples was randomized within each participant. A break of 5 minutes was taken in between the sets. Participants were instructed to open the sensory software, “RedJade” through the website: in their cell phone at the beginning of the laboratory session and to follow the instructions. Each participant was given a Participant Code as an identifier and a verification code was to be entered start the questionnaire which was provided randomly for each participant. The samples were then evaluated by them in the order shown in the instructions of the screen (website link). For each sample, the Check-all-that-apply methodology was used from the list that was showed in the screen by the participants who had to check all the attributes that they perceived. Their palate was cleaned with crackers and water in between each sample.
The laboratory class data were presented in Excel sheet with Participant name, Start and End time, Sample Identifier, Sample Name and various sensory attributes (namely Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Salty, Cocoa Flavour, Milky/Diary Flavour, Astringent, Smooth, Hard, Soft, Chewy, Caramel Flavour, Roasted Flavour, Brittle & Umami). Frequency data analyses of each attributes were performed using the Microsoft Excel Version 10 (Table 2). A bar graph was plotted in excel for the Frequency data with Percentage of Responses (%) in the Y-axis and Sensory Attributes in the X-axis (Table 3).
The taste testing of chocolates using the check-all-that methodology, a line / interval scale of measuring sensory responses, provided the choice of sensory attributes from 50 untrained participants who taste tested 4 different formulations of chocolate and the results were pooled together and the frequency data of each attribute, for each sample id were calculated in Microsoft Excel (Table 2). This is summarised in the bar graph of the frequency table (Table 3) which gives an overview of the sensory attributes perceived by group of individuals for each of the product and their understanding of the composition of the chocolate products.
Table 3 clearly suggests that Sample 147 shows the highest percentage of responses for the attributes of sweet and milky/diary flavour, followed by Sample 234 which shows highest responses for the attributes of bitter, cocoa flavour and hard. However, the third sample, Sample 516, does not show any highest percentage of responses for any of the attributes, while Sample 962 shows the highest response for caramel flavour. This result relates to a comparison write up on Dark chocolate Vs Milk chocolate, Alissa Fleck (2018) who reported that milk chocolate has variety of differences from the dark chocolate in its flavour like being more milky, sweet and in its texture like being more smooth, creamier, whereas the other is more bitter in taste and harder in texture.
In an overall view, the sensory attribute of sweet dominates the table whereas the attributes of sour and umami are the least for all the 4 chocolate samples. These results clearly indicate that the participants could clearly identify the sensory attributes related to the corresponding samples which had the ingredients specific to the attributes that were chosen. A similar study was conducted with varying levels of sugar concentrations in milk chocolates were the analysis correlated with the attributes of the chocolate samples (Chizoti et al, 2018).
The bar graph of Table 3 shows that the ingredients of the chocolate samples provided were correctly perceived by the participants. Milk chocolate was identified with more sweet and milky flavour, the dark chocolate was labelled with more bitter and cocoa flavour and the dark salted caramel chocolate was also attributed with more bitter, caramel and salty flavour.
Varieties of chocolate products like milk and dark bring out the variabilities in its constituents, sensory attributes and as a result affect then consumer preferences. Dark chocolate has stronger cocoa flavour than milk which triggers strong sensory responses from consumers (Sorenson & Astrup, 2011).
The study was to analyse the various attributes related to each chocolate sample and its constituents and how the consumer perceives the stimuli of each sensation that is assessed by their senses.
In the current global market, there are varieties of chocolate products available with several mixture of ingredients like sugar, salt, caramel, cocoa, milk, oils and so on which evokes the sensory analytical abilities in consumers through their taste perceptions. An approach conducted using taste test can be aimed at analysing sensory aspects of a food product, nevertheless, this experiment is not a good tool to assess the consumer acceptability or preference (Simeone & Marotta, 2010).
This study evaluates the understanding and knowledge of nature of products in consumers with respect to the sensory attributes. A Relative Descriptive Analysis of these chocolate products is to be conducted to quantify the sensory attributes to evaluate their significant differences along with a panel who has more knowledge of the true nature of product and its differentiation.
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