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Consumer Testing of Beef


One of the research interests of the  Product Development Research Centre is consumers' perception of product  quality and the use of consumers to define product quality. The centre  has two postgraduate students working in this research area and is  working with both local and international companies to develop consumer  orientated quality programmes. Central to this theme is using a range of  consumer sensory methodologies that enable a relationship to be  established between the consumer liking or quality perception and one or  more quality measures.

Silver Fern Farms

In 2013, in  conjunction with Texas Tech University we assisted Silver Fern Farms  develop their beef eating quality system, which involved large scale  consumer testing in the USA and New Zealand. Working to a tight deadline  we had 3960 consumers rate the liking for a total of 23,760 portions of  beef over seven testing locations across New Zealand. The testing  involved groups of 20 consumers tasting six samples in a one-hour  session and typically three groups per evening. For each of the six  rounds, 20 samples were cooked and served simultaneously to the 20  consumers. Over different evenings the effect of three different cook  methods on meat liking was evaluated.

Silver Fern Farms used the  resulting liking data to produce a mathematical formula that expressed  consumer liking in terms of grading criteria. The results of this study  were used to launch a new premium range, called beef EQ by Silver Fern  Farms. Using the consumer-derived formula enables a consistently high  quality to be delivered to the consumer.

Flyhidrate in-flight beverage system

Flyhidrate drinks

Flyhidrate is a unique three drink in-flight beverage system designed to mitigate the physiological stresses of flying. The Flyhidrate drinks are now used by national rugby teams and other elite athletes for their international travel. The beverages sytem was recognised with innovations awards at a 2012 airline industry Middle East trade fair and the 2013 NZ Juice and Beverage Awards.

The drink functionality is designed to improved hydration, provide circulation assistance and mitigate the effects of altitude. The drink was developed collaboratively with the Flyhidrate Ltd team, nutrition consultants and the University of Otago's School of Physical Education and the Product Development Research Centre.
The major role of the Product Development Research Centre was not to only formulate three drinks to meet the design brief with its required functionality, but also to make the final formulations and ingredient selection acceptable to consumers. To do this the formulations were carefully balanced and optimised with taste masking techniques, after which consumer acceptability trials took place on flights between Auckland and Los Angeles. Based on the feedback received, the formulations were modified to be commercially acceptable.
For the Flyhidrate project major responsibilities included: contributing to functional ingredient selection, providing advice on manufacture conditions to ensure stability, formulation of laboratory batches for the double blind laboratory-based in-flight simulation  and for production scale up assessment.

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Centre Manager

Associate Professor Pat Silcock
Tel +64 3 479 7564

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