Quality - industry driver

Producing and selling good quality foods to the consumer is a constant challenge that requires the whole production and supply chain to work properly for each product. The cardinal needs around food quality are to ensure good ingredients are processed, packaged and stored to present the consumer with an appetising experience. Existing challenges to food quality, such as extension of shelf life, will encourage novel, sustainable, solutions.

Fundamental needs

  • Traditional ingredients and packaging materials are being replaced with novel substitutes as dietary changes (e.g. vegan foods) and sustainability drive demand. The impact of these changes on the functionality, microbiological quality and sensory quality of foods needs to be properly assessed.
  • New ways of processing foods to reduce microbial load present quality issues (e.g. bleaching from use of ozone). The use of novel processes, and improvements to existing ones, must be assessed for their sensory and microbiological impact.
  • Consumer perception of products is changing as societies become more concious of the influence of food on health. We need to understand how the 'sensory signature' of products influences choice in response to perception changes.
  • Better definition of sensory scoring to reduce subjectivity and the use of instrumental methods will lead to better comparisons between products. Consumer complaint data needs to be more nuanced to aid root cause analysis.
  • Quality specifications (e.g. microbiological criteria for raw products) need to be harmonised to improve business efficiency and reduce waste.
  • Robust systems need to be in place to determine the quality of ingredients from multiple sources as manufacturers seek to guarantee supply by buying from larger numbers of suppliers.

Emerging needs

  • Covid-19 affects taste and smell. This has led to sensory panels being compromised within companies, as well as an increase in unusual customer complaints. There is a need to identify individuals affected by Covid and understand how their senses have been affected. This will allow systems to be put in place that can allow for the impact of the virus.
  • Foods are being increasingly fortified with metal ions and other additions. There is a need to identify the impact of these fortifications on the sensory properties of foods.
  • There is a need to define the oxygen barrier properties of packaging and the effects of changing it for a variety of food types. This is in response to changing barrier properties of recycled and recyclable packaging materials.
  • Recycled foods such as fruit rind snacks are being investigated. There is a need to assess the factors that impact the quality of such products.
  • Reformulation can be inadvertent! There is a need for clearer communication between ingredient suppliers and their customers regarding any reformulation, as well as an appreciation of the impact on the quality of final product of such changes.
  • Working from home can result in a longer and less thorough audit process. It has also been suggested that remote sensory panels are not as effective as in-house ones. There is a need to increase in-person working in these areas.

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of Campden BRI but are a summary of industrial feedback obtained from Campden BRI’s Member Interest Groups and interactions with government bodies and wider industry.

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