Wageningen University develops new flavour models

The flavour experts at the business unit Greenhouse Horticulture of Wageningen University & Research have developed flavour models to quickly screen fruits for their flavour level.

The latest flavour model for strawberries was recently taken into use. In the presentation 'Predicting Strawberry Flavour,' Caroline Labrie explains how the model came about, and how growers or agriculturalists can use it.

Current flavour model
The flavour model for tomatoes is currently the standard which allows the horticultural sector to communicate about flavour level and flavour differences of tomatoes.

A limitation of sensory research is that panels are sick of a certain product after a long series of tasting. The willingness to participate in tastings decreases because of that. Tastings that last too long, or have too many sessions with products that resemble each other too closely, add too much noise to the data. This noise is not a factor when using measuring equipment. We therefore taste a limited number of products per week per panel, sometimes spread out over various sessions. But some customers sometimes have 150 new parties, of which they want to know the flavour levels right away.

New method for tomatoes
Keeping this demand from the market in mind, a new method (the flavour model) was developed. The result of a consumer panel can be predicted due to some instrumental measurements because of this. The flavour model uses certain instrumental parameters for sensory attributes set by expert panels. The model pays less attention to specific aromatic connections, but uses the correlation between the attributes ‘sweetness’ and ‘aromatic,’ and also takes texture aspects into account.

Flavour models for more crops
The model expresses the flavour appreciation on a scale from 0 to 100. The model will never replace panels, but it can help to quickly give an image of variety differences and seasonal variation, or it can monitor whether a certain established level is achieved early in the improvement chain, because data can be collected on a much larger scale. Flavour models have also been developed for bell peppers and Galia melons.

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