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The organic food market in Ireland has grown considerably in the past two years1. Its popularity is attributable to the strong reassurances provided by its producers, regarding how the products have been produced2. Organically farmed vegetables are cultivated without the use of synthetically produced fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides3. Whereas, conventional farmers rely on pesticides and other chemical substances to maintain high yields4. The objective of this study was to establish whether perceptible sensory differences exist between Irish grown organic and conventional carrots and Irish grown organic and conventional mushrooms.
Materials and Methods
Sensory evaluations were conducted by a semi-trained panel (n=10) on three batches of organic and conventional carrotsa (cv. Nairobi) and three batches of organic and conventional mushroomsb. Carrot sensory attributes (appearance, aroma, texture and taste) and mushroom sensory attributes (appearance, aroma, texture and tastec) were selected from those previously reported in the literature5,6. Sensory evaluations were carried out in individual booths under incandescent light. The samples were presented on white paper plates and coded with 3-digit random numbers. All samples were presented in a randomized order to the panelists.
Questionnaires were designed and delivered using Compusense five® (Compusense, Guelph, Ontario, Canada). The panelists recorded their results on nine-point line scales (for sensory attributes:1= low intensity and 9=high intensity; and for acceptability attributes:1=dislike extremely and 9=like extremely).
Results and Discussion
The sensory profiles did not differ greatly for the organic and conventional carrots or the organic and conventional mushrooms. For carrot appearance and aroma, intensity of colour values of 6.67+1.06 and 6.07+1.23, and intensity of aroma values of 3.97+1.07 and 3.83+1.42 were documented for the organic and conventional carrot samples respectively. For carrot texture and taste, hardness values of 5.97+0.93 and 5.80+1.06, crunchiness values of 6.30+1.09 and 6.63+0.93, juiciness values of 5.47+1.46 and 5.50+1.68, sweetness values of 4.53+1.41 and 4.30+1.09, and bitterness values of 1.97+0.96 and 2.13+1.01 were observed for the organic and conventional carrots respectively. A comparison between the organically farmed carrot sample and the conventionally produced carrot sample found no significant differences (p>0.05) for the sensory acceptability attributes of appearance, aroma, texture and taste. Sensory evaluations conducted on organic and conventional mushrooms found no significant differences (p>0.05) for cap colour, firmness, and appearance, aroma and texture acceptability values. However, our sensory data indicated that the organic mushroom samples had darker gills (p<0.05) and a stronger mushroom aroma (p<0.05). For mushroom appearance, gill colour values of 7.00+0.88 and 6.00+1.14 were recorded for organic and conventional mushrooms respectively. For mushroom aroma, intensity of aroma values of 6.00+1.10 and 4.00+1.05 were documented for organic and conventional mushroom samples respectively.
The results of the carrot study showed no significant differences for the sensory attributes of appearance, aroma, texture and taste. Whereas, the results of the mushroom study found no differences for cap colour, firmness, and appearance, aroma, texture and taste acceptability values, but a difference in gill colour and intensity of mushroom aroma was documented. The organic mushrooms were perceived to have darker gills and stronger mushroom aroma. Overall, Irish grown organic and conventional carrots and mushrooms did not show any significant differences in all studied sensory acceptability categories.
1Ryan, R.(2008)Organic food sales up 82% in 2 years. The Irish Examiner, 5September 08 p4
2Wright, S. and McCrea, D. (2007) The Handbook of Organic and Fair Trade Food Marketing. Blackwell Publishing. Oxford, England.
1Codex Alimentarius Commission. (2001). Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Food. Rome: Joint Food and Agriculture Organisation/World Health Organisation (FAO/WHO) Food Standards Program. Available online: http://www.fao.org/organicag/doc/glorganicfinal.pdf (accessed May 30, 2006)
4Baker, B.P., Benbrook, C.M., Groth, E., and Benbrook, K.L. (2002). Food Additives and Contaminants.19, (5), 427-446.
5Da Silva, E.A., Viera, M.A., Viera, E.A., Amboni, R.DM.C., Amante, E.R. and Teixeira, E. (2007). J. Food Process Eng. 30, 746-756.
6Maga, J.A. (1980). J. Food Process Pres. 5, 95-101.
MARKET-ORIENTED NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIVE BETA-GLUCAN ENRICHED FOOD PRODUCTS
A.J. Troy and J. Bogue
Department of Food Business and Development, University College Cork.
The impact of dietary fibre on human health has attracted considerable scientific interest globally. Beta-glucan, which is a soluble fibre, has been the subject of numerous scientific studies for its health promoting benefits. This ingredient possesses high market potential for international food firms competing in the health and wellness market. Integral to success in health markets has been the evolution of health claims which emphasised the importance of health benefits such as fibre. This research investigated consumers’ attitudes to dietary fibre and the market potential for innovative beta-glucan enriched products. Qualitative research was carried out between November 2007 and January 2008. Five focus groups and three semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with consumers from various backgrounds. Brand and price were identified as important extrinsic attributes for the initial purchase of new products. Consumers revealed that taste and satiety were the most significant factors which encouraged repeat purchases of healthy cereal-based products. Participants were aware of the relationship between the consumption of fibre and the reduction of the risk of certain chronic diseases. A high level of mistrust existed towards health claims with lower confidence levels associated with novel ingredients. Consumers require information on the benefits of beta-glucan prior to product launch to make informed purchasing decisions. A more market-oriented NPD process facilitates the inclusion of the consumer in the design of innovative beta-glucan enriched food products.
Consumers in many countries, including Ireland, fail to the meet the recommended daily intake for cereals1. Many studies have identified an inverse relationship between dietary fibre and obesity2, and dietary fibre and cardiovascular diseases3 4. The use of health and nutritional claims has been utilised by numerous international food firms to strategically market the benefits of fibre5 and consequently increase regular fibre consumption. The objectives of this research were: to investigate consumers’ attitudes to dietary fibre and analyse the market potential for innovative beta-glucan enriched products.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
This research employed a multi-method approach utilising both focus groups and semi-structured qualitative interviews for the determination of the results. Both the focus groups and interviews followed the same guidelines: they initially assessed consumers’ attitudes towards foods described as healthy and then focused more specifically on fibre-rich and beta-glucan rich foods. The software package QSR N66 was used in the analysis of both the focus group and interview transcripts.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
This study established that consumers had a positive attitude towards fibre and fibre-rich foods but awareness of fibre types varied. Motivation to consume fibre-rich products increased with age. A large proportion of consumers acknowledged relationships between the ingestion of foods perceived as healthy, such as fibre, and their effect on the reduction of certain chronic diseases. Confidence levels towards foods which displayed health or nutritional claims were low. Conversely, the focus groups and interviews established that consumers, particularly females, were initially more attracted to products which displayed a health or nutritional claim over other products. It was evident that many consumers had not heard of the term beta-glucan prior to the focus groups and interviews. However, the focus groups revealed that consumers were eager to learn more about the specific benefits of beta-glucan consumption.
This research revealed that consumers were interested in the consumption of a fibre-rich product in order to increase the healthiness of their diet. Successfully gaining consumer acceptance of an innovative functional beta-glucan enriched product would require effective dissemination of information pertaining to the benefits of beta-glucan consumption prior to the launch of such a product. A market-oriented approach is crucial to the new product development (NPD) process. Strategically marketing the benefits of beta-glucan consumption in a gradual process would allow consumers time to become aware of the term and increase confidence towards the purchase of innovative beta-glucan enriched products.
This research was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Food under the National Development Plan, 2000-2006, Food Institution Research Measure.
1 The Nordic Rye Group. (2001). Rye and Health. Available from:
2 Slavin, J.L. (2005). Dietary fibre and body weight. Nutrition, Vol. 21, 3, p411-418.
3 Kurth, T., Moore, S.C., Gaziano, J.M., Kase, C.S., Stampfer, M.J., Berger, K.,
Buring, J.E. (2006). Healthy lifestyle and the risk of stroke in women. Archives of
Internal Medicine, Vol. 166, 13, p1403-1409.
4 Lairon, D., Arnault, N., Bertrais, S., Planells, R., Clero, E., Hercberg, S., Boutron-
Ruault, M.C. (2005). Dietary fibre intake and risk factors for cardiovascular disease
in French adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 82, 6, p1185-1194.
5 Frost and Sullivan. (2005). European Food Fibre Market. London. Frost and
6 QSR N6 International. (2000). Available from:
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