Expanding interest in the nutraceutical market inspires sensory- and nutraceutical-oriented optimization methods. Black cherry (BlkCh), Concord grape (Con) and pomegranate (Pom) juices were blended according to a mixture design (seven juice treatments) and evaluated by descriptive and consumer panels. Consumers (n = 100) evaluated estimated overall liking (OL), pre- and post-antioxidant information OL, appearance OL, just-about-right (JAR) attributes, purchase intent and familiarity to determine an optimum juice formulation and the influence of consumer characteristics on acceptance of nutraceutical-rich juices. Descriptive (n = 10) and consumer (n = 100) data showed that Con juice attributes (sweetness, Concord flavor, caramelized flavor) were positive, and that the attributes of BlkCh and Pom juices were negative. Post-antioxidant information OL was high for Con juice (7.48) and low for BlkCh juice (5.01) and Pom juice (5.01). Using the desirability function, juice blend solutions were generated based on OL for pre-antioxidant-information (77% Con + 3% Pom + 20% BlkCh) and post-antioxidant information (75% Con + 12% Pom + 13% BlkCh). Pom juice had the most antioxidants, and the post-antioxidant information solution had a higher level of Pom. JAR analysis showed that 33% Con + 33% Pom + 33% BlkCh juice had fewer nonoptimal attributes than 100% Pom or 100% BlkCh juice, but had more antioxidants than 100% Con juice. Evaluating consumer OL, diagnostic and descriptive data provided a comprehensive understanding of how products could be adjusted to maximize consumer acceptance.
Black cherry, Concord grape and pomegranate juice blends are prime candidates for the nutraceutical juice market because of their inherent health-oriented characteristics and portable convenience. Consumer-driven approaches to balance the nutraceutical and sensory quality of products are necessary to optimize consumer utility. Merely applying instrumental measures of nutraceutical levels to optimization models does not incorporate how consumers value those attributes; thus, an optimization that applied consumer value of antioxidants in juice products was used, the principle of which could aid in the future development of nutraceutical beverages.