• berry fruit;
  • cocoa;
  • descriptive sensory analysis;
  • acceptability;
  • purchase probability;
  • health claims


BACKGROUND: Reaching a go/no-go decision on a product concept early in the innovation cycle can save companies significant resources. The current research is situated within this context. Using polyphenol-rich beverages that were at an early stage in the formulation/optimisation cycle, a number of insights were sought: (1) how acceptable to consumers were these early-stage formulations; (2) what sensory attributes contributed to consumer liking/disliking; and (3) could the disliked sensory attribute(s) be sufficiently masked within the chosen product format?

RESULTS: Beverages were formulated according to a 2 × 4 factorial design where one factor varied the polyphenol source and the other sweetness. While consumer acceptability and purchase probability increased with sucrose concentration, the beverages were of below-average sensory quality. Bitterness was identified as a key sensory attribute to focus on in future optimisation efforts.

CONCLUSION: A number of approaches exist for masking bitterness and there appeared to be little reason why at least some of the beverages could not be improved to achieve high levels of sensory quality and consumer acceptance. Further, it is suggested that disclosing information about health properties of these polyphenol-rich beverages during consumer testing may further enhance their appeal to consumers. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry