Sneak preview in the Test & Taste Center at the Venlo campus

january 26, 2020

Accessible taste tests for food

How crispy do you like your salad? Does a potato taste better when it’s steamed instead of boiled? Do you prefer a smooth smoothie, or do you like it with bits? All of these preferences and tastes have recently been professionally tested using consumer panels at the Test & Taste Center at the Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo.

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“When you develop a new product or concept, you want to know whether it meets consumers’ needs and demands. After all, they’re the ones choosing these items in the supermarket. Since it’s all about safe and healthy food at Brightlands Campus Greenport Venlo, this is the perfect place for a Test & Taste Center where consumer panels can test new foods and concepts,” according to Jella Theeuwen, business developer at the campus.

The benefits of the campus community

The Test & Taste Center gives the campus the ability to offer food producers and developers an accessible way to conduct taste tests. Jella: “We coordinate everything and make sure the entire taste test project is carried out in a professional manner. We can profit from the knowledge possessed by the various parties in the campus community, and facilities such as Maastricht University’s sensory labs and the taste panels of Kokkerelli and the Kids University for Cooking foundation.  We help organizations arrange the types of taste tests they need, and work on the basis of demand-driven factors rather than just general taste test standardization. This is part of the added value the campus offers. We make sure the right questions are asked and we instruct the test panel. After all, the goal is to generate reliable, objective test results.” 

Taste lab

The facilities at the campus also contribute to good test results. The Maastricht University Smaaklab (Taste Lab) is the heart and soul of the Test & Taste Center. Jella: “This lab is a perfect testing environment. The test panel can conduct their tests in a stimuli-free setting so that the subjects don’t get distracted by other smells. Individual testing booths means that the testers can’t influence one another. Depending on the research question, a more homey setting can also be used.”

Tasters wanted

Jella would like to expand the test panel, and is looking for new panel members. “We're looking for average consumers, people who enjoy testing new food products,” Jella says. “Testers can expect a call about once a month and always have the option to decide whether they want to participate. The taste tests take a maximum of 30 minutes. We always provide brief instructions so the testers will be prepared when they start the tests. They receive a small fee in exchange for participating, but that’s not the reason most of them do it. They really just enjoy being involved in the development of new food products and concepts this way.”

Are you interested in being on a consumer panel, or would your company like to have a taste test conducted at the Test & Taste Center?

Register here!
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