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Does consumer liking fit the sensory quality assessed by trained panelists in traditional food products? A study on PDO Idiazabal cheese

Ojeda, Mónica, Etaio, Iñaki, Guerrero, Luis, Fernández‐Gil, Mᵃ Pilar, Pérez‐Elortondo, Francisco José
Journal of sensory studies 2018 v.33 no.2 pp. e12318
cheeses, consumer preferences, education, marketing, quality control, sensory properties, traditional foods
The aim of this work was to study the degree of agreement between consumer liking and the sensory quality scored by the trained panel in charge of the quality control of a traditional product (PDO Idiazabal cheese). Nine cheeses of different qualities were evaluated by eight trained assessors and by 212 consumers from Vitoria‐Gasteiz (Basque Country). Cheese samples were clearly different regarding overall sensory quality (OSQ) assessed by the trained panel. Regarding consumers, five groups with different correlation levels with OSQ were identified: “sweet” and “toasty” were the main sensory drivers leading the liking of the consumers with a higher positive correlation, whereas some defective characteristics (“animal,” “rancid,” and “bitter”) were the main drivers for consumers with higher negative correlation. These results suggest that it would be interesting for the Regulatory Council to strength the communicational strategies among consumers to be able to identify the typical and nontypical (mainly defects) characteristics of this traditional product, especially among those liking defective cheeses. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS: This study gives information about the degree of agreement concerning the sensory quality of a traditional product reached by a trained panel and by consumers' preferences. The research includes information regarding the sensory characteristics which drive liking among different groups of consumers. These results are of interest for the Regulatory Council of this product to define its marketing polices and consumer‐oriented education activities in order to provide information about the specific sensory characteristics of the product. Moreover, it may be interesting for PDO Regulatory Councils and other producers of traditional products in order to be more aware about the possible agreement and/or disagreement between the sensory quality of the product and consumer preferences.