As the world evolves and attitudes change, sustainable solutions are being sought in every aspect of life. Sensory and consumer science research is no exception, and we feel obliged to adapt our processes and methods accordingly. At SAM, we saw an opportunity to turn the 2021 ban on single-use plastics into a research and societal opportunity to assess the impact of replacing traditionally used plastic with recyclable and/or re-useable testing materials.
A specific focus was placed on biodegradable materials, as these materials are cost-efficient, hygienic replacements for single-use plastic and comply with the European legal guidelines, while still being single-use. However, the key question was, are these biodegradable materials as attractive to consumers as the traditional utensil options, or could they create a bias in expert-panels and consumer product evaluations?
SAM approached this study with a dual methodology of expert-panel evaluation and consumer research.
The expert-panel (n=11) was tasked with evaluating 5 different yogurts using both a plastic and stainless-steel spoon using CATA methodology. The consumer panel (n=61), using a CLT methodology, evaluated Ravioli served on both plastic and biodegradable plates.
The results of these two studies demonstrated to SAM that changing to washable or biodegradable materials did not impact product evaluation.
For the sensory analyses conducted by the panel, the performances regarding discrimination and ranking between the two types of materials remained unchanged and the taste was not perceived differently depending on whether a plastic or stainless-steel spoon was used.
For the consumer evaluation, the change from a plastic plate to a biodegradable one did not impact the organoleptic evaluation of products, nor the preference and purchase intent.
In addition, the studies demonstrated the quality of biodegradable products in terms of resistance to heat, grease and liquid products.
Therefore, the study was a success – both for SAM and global sustainability! This study was the first step towards more in-depth research and a global transformation of how we perceive sustainable products, while always keeping in mind the quality of the Sensory and Consumer data we provide!
Please contact SAM for more information.