BACKGROUND: The sensory properties of food products are an important success factor, especially in the organic market, where many producers and distributors of organic food claim superior taste for their products compared to the conventional alternative. For this reason consumer expectations and preferences, as well as the sensory properties of conventional and organic yogurt, have to be investigated in depth. In this work, the sensory profiling and consumer data of six nonflavored organic and conventional Italian yogurts were elaborated. Some results on the data segmentation (heavy and light users of organic food) and on the effect of information on liking (blind and labeled test) were obtained. Multivariate analysis was carried out to study how the sensory characteristics of ‘natural yogurts’ drive consumer liking.
RESULTS: Consumers' preferences were oriented towards a creamy mouthfeel and smooth visual appearance and for a less acid and fresh taste. In particular, a conventional yogurt was the least accepted, because it was not creamy enough. This paper shows there is room to improve unflavored yogurt to better meet consumer expectations.
CONCLUSION: Sensory profiling did not allow a distinction in odor/taste/texture between organic and conventional samples. However, three of four organic samples were in the region of highest consumer acceptability, fitting well consumers' preference. There was no clear tendency that heavy or light users scored differently in the blind and labeled tests regarding overall liking but, for all, the most liked conventional yogurt scored higher when labeled as organic. Copyright © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry