Consumers’ evaluation and preference does not always coincide with the quality standards fixed by experts – also called objective quality; either consumers may be unaware of what the properties are that determine quality or the consumers may find other, more important attributes that differ from the criteria of technical experts. This gives birth to perceived quality and preferences. Recent research (Grunert et al., 1996; Dopico, 2001; Dopico, 2003) is oriented towards integrating the two approaches - objective quality and consumer preferences - in order to adapt or improve the physical characteristics of the seafood products based on consumer demands. This new approach allows for better connecting characteristics of new seafood products with the real demand of the market. In order to measure the criteria involved, a questionnaire with all necessary parameters was built.
MOTIVATION: Connection between technological development and consumer preferences
When developing new seafood products it is important that they fulfil market requirements, i.e. adjusting product characteristics to meet consumer preferences. A good example of this approach is the investigation of the degree of acceptance of the new products developed at the Instituto del Frio (IdF, CSIC). The products are based on surimi enriched with wheat dietary fibre and minced fish enriched with wheat and grape dietary fibres. Collaboration has been established between the SEAFOODplus projects CONSUMERPRODUCTS and CONSUMEREVALUATE, in which market experts and technologists are integrating technological orientations (objective quality) and market orientations (preferences or perceived quality). As part of this collaboration the training study described has been performed.
The overall objective of the training activity consists of relating the seafood product’s technological and sensory characteristics with criteria established by the experts within consumer evaluations, in order to determine the level of acceptance of the new enriched seafood products among consumers, and redesign the characteristics, if necessary. Therefore, the aim is obtaining seafood products with textures, colours and appearances that have a higher acceptance in the market.
In order to achieve this objective a new approach has been implemented. This approach integrates expert assessment and consumer evaluation. This integration consists of adapting the products´ technological and sensory characteristics to consumer preferences as shown in figure 1.