Major achievements in SEAFOODSENSE

Improved seafood sensory quality for the consumer

Major achievements in 2006

One of the main tasks in 2006 was to analyse the data from the huge consumer study from 2005. In the study sensory evaluation of fish and consumer research in collaborate studies using sensory panels and consumers in 4 countries evaluating the same samples of two fish species was conducted. Quantitative Descriptive Analysis (QDA) was used to analyse the sensory quality of eight cod products, different with regard to origin (wild/farmed), storage time (short/extended) and storage method (fresh/frozen/packed in modified atmosphere). At the same time, 378 consumers in four European countries tasted and scored the cod products on a 9-point hedonic scale. In addition information on the consumers attitudes, motives/barriers and fish purchase behaviour was collected. The aim was to investigate how sensory quality corresponded to consumers liking of different cod products. The QDA discriminated well between the products. The farmed cod products were considerably different from wild cod, with more light and even colour, meaty texture, odour and flavour. On average, none of the eight cod products had very high or low preferences, but segmentation of consumers identified 5 distinct clusters with different preferences. Between cluster differences were observed for attitudes, motives/barriers, purchase behaviour and demographic background. The consumers in the four countries all preferred least the wild salmon after long frozen storage. Other salmon products received a very different preference by the countries. Salmon in MA packs stored for a longer period received the highest average score by the Icelandic and Dutch consumers compared to consumers from Denmark and Ireland. Fresh salmon received the highest score by the Danish consumers compared to consumers from the other countries and salmon after short frozen storage received the highest average score by the Irish consumers. The wild salmon products were less preferred compared to farmed salmon, but those two products had been stored frozen for relatively long time.


The second big activity in 2006 was the ETHICOD project, a collaborative consumer study between three projects in pillar 2 and one project in pillar 5 using sensory evaluation of fish and consumer research using the same fish in different countries. Farmed fish cod was slaughtered in Tromso in October 2006. The cod was processed in Norway into fillets and transported to DIFRES for quality analyses, IFL for sensory analyses and consumer testing (both in-home and central location) and IMARES for consumer testing (both in-home and central location). Commercial farmed cod was obtained from Iceland and sent to IMARES and Spain for in-home consumer tests and to IFL for sensory analyses. In Spain 450 consumers received four different products. Questionnaires and information labels were developed in cooperation with project 2.4 and 2.3. The performance of the processing, packing, sending, and transporting between countries was successful. The consumer tests both in Iceland and the Netherlands and collecting of data has been finalised. Also the sensory evaluation of all samples at IFL has been carried out.  Both this year and the year before the research institutes have now gained valuable experience in performing consumer studies using identical samples of fish products simultaneously in different countries. A valuable experience in experimental design and procedure writing for conducting consumer ‘laboratory’ test and home tests used at the different laboratories has been gained. The logistic challenge of transporting between fish between different countries was very successful because of the thorough planning no unforeseen problems regarding packing, labelling and transport or evaluation of the fish samples were encountered. The data set collected is enormous and will be a basis for various statistical analyses both on sensory attributes of the various products, consumer preference and attitudes in different countries and the impact of ethical information given to consumers. This will be a very important contribution to explain the impact of ethical information given to consumers, choice of fish as consumers in different countries will have different experiences with seafood, related to availability and frequency of consumption that will determine individual preferences, and that are also likely to lead to between country differences in preferences. Comparison is now possible on data from consumer studies made in different settings i.e. “laboratory” and “home” with comparison to sensory evaluation of the same samples and other quality measurements. The impact on information given to consumers tasting different fish products in their homes in different countries will also be studied.

See News item

Operators in European fish industry chains rarely use specified sensory methods 11-03-06 
Interviews with companies in four different European countries show that companies are not applying sensory methods systematically. The whole chain from fishing vessel/aquaculture to retailer was studied.

Projectleader SEAFOODSENSE

Emilia Martinsdottir

IFL, Iceland