Texture is ‘the key to commercial success’

By Lorraine Mullaney

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: National starch food, Perception, Sense

Texture is ‘the key to commercial success’
Texture is becoming an increasingly important dimension for consumer-winning foods, according to National Starch Food Innovation

That's why the organisation has developed a four-layer model that connects consumer, sensory, technical and applications expertise to help manufacturers understand which ingredients can achieve the desired effect.

The approach involves understanding how texture relates to consumer needs and the language consumers use to describe textures.

Charlotte Commarmond, marketing director with National Starch Food Innovation, explained: "To win the hearts of consumers, a product has to meet the experiential quality consumers look for whether it's indulgence, comfort, excitement or satisfaction. The textural promise on the outside has to match the true experience inside."

Once consumers' desire for texture has been identified, it must then be delivered. Texture is perceived by several senses, so the first challenge is to ensure each one is stimulated. Foods change texture as they are bitten chewed and swallowed, so processors must ensure the correct dimension is achieved at each stage of the sensory perception process.

"From a technical standpoint, we can identify the criteria that will deliver chosen textural attributes," said Commarmond. "We then build the desired texture by selecting the ideal ingredient solution from our toolbox of starch-based texturisers."

The sensory team can measure the sensoric attributes of existing products and plot the results on a texture map, like the one shown above. Manufacturers can see how their product's texture differs to their rivals' products and identify where improvement is possible. The map above charts the textures of market-leading salad dressings. It shows that high levels of surface shine and slipperiness are crucial, while a chalky or gritty texture is undesirable. Each of the criteria can be manipulated to fine tune the product's texture.

Related topics: NPD