Consumer studies and product development
Food related lifestyle (FRL) consumer segments
Further analysis of the data obtained to create food related lifestyle (FRL) segments, has confirmed that six segments are identified which vary on the consumers´ perception of their lifestyles in terms convenience and health. It is good to realise from this analysis that the segments may not be fixed entities. By profiling the segments according to their fish product preferences, and by examining their differences, the FRL segments did display differences for certain fish products and content claims. However, the overall effects for preferences were, in most cases more clearly visible than the differences between these segments.
When analysing the product preferences from the whole group, it can be seen that the fish product itself is by far the most important in trying or buying a product and the important of the content claim displayed on the product is rather small. Among the fish products, the cuts and fillets are preferred, followed by whole fish.
The above three conclusions suggest, from the ‘products’ perspective that it is more interesting, regardless the target segment, to focus on developing products based on cuts (minced fish), fillets, or even whole fish.
By profiling the segments according to their fish product preferences, and by examining their differences, two food related lifestyle segments, the ‘natural’ and ‘uninvolved’ differ most from each other. The ‘uninvolved’ prefer the ready to eat meals and burgers, whereas for these two products, the opposite is true for the ‘natural’ consumers.
This suggests that e.g. for ready to eat fish products, such as the ‘fish tamales’ that are being developed the segment most suited would be the ‘uninvolved’.
Product test (Spain) and concept test (The Netherlands) for restructured products
To elaborate the best product concepts for the restructured products to be marketed, two approaches were done. In the first one, a product test was performed in Spain and on a later stage, a concept test was done in The Netherlands. In either case the tests were conducted in a sample representing the whole consumers, without any segmentation, since previous results showed that the overall effects for preferences were, in most cases more clearly visible than the differences between the segments.
The company Angulas Aguinaga S.A., being associate member of SEAFOODplus produced restructured seafood products for the test in Spain. The preliminary results proved for some of the products with shredded surimi a positive correlation between (positive) consumption experience, satisfaction and intention to consume. It is expected a higher distance between the controls and grape antioxidant dietary fibre enriched minced products, which will probably call for optimization of their sensory properties.
Functional seafood products enriched with Se and taurine via dietary modulation
Analysis of previous results has shown that organoleptically, selenium enriched fish muscle is very acceptable and thus sensory properties do not constitute a problem for the acceptability of these products. The fact that consumers prefer cuts, fillets and even whole fish in comparison with other seafood products such as burgers, toppings, etc, make it easy the further product development, which is also a positive result.
It has been shown that the stability of the selenium content and some intrinsic beneficial components of African catfish such free amino acids and PUFA, is high during frozen storage or double freezing. In fact, in spite of the predictable changes in lipids (oxidation) due to frozen storage, no significant effect was seen in the fatty acid content, including those of EPA and DHA. First results of the determination of the Se-content showed an average retention during cold smoking process of 85%.
Results obtained so far show that the taurine content in the edible part of the African catfish increased in a non linear manner with increasing dietary taurine concentrations in the feed leveling off when inclusion exceeded a certain threshold.
Functional seafood products enriched in dietary fibre
A reanalysis of the technological feasibility of the inclusion of fucus dietary fibers (DF) into restructured products showed so far that dietary fucus fiber acts as antioxidant in fat fish species and water is retained by centrifugation and by gravity after thawing and cooking and maintained along frozen storage. Color and odour of the new formulations is much acceptable now than in the previous trials. On the other hand, the attempts to obtain colorless antioxidant dietary fiber from Fucus spp. seaweed, was not successful because a major part of polyphenols was lost.
The analysis of the structure changes in the presence of wheat DF during gelation of surimi and minced fish has been crried out. Previous results obtained by the taste panel showed a higher mouthfeel of dryness for the 6% FDT-containing formulations, which was more pronounced in minced fish products. In the latter case, the slight lower moisture for these samples could partly account for this result. Also, in both gel and mince fish systems, the combined effect of a higher denaturation and local dehydration of the muscle proteins observed by Raman spectroscopy could partly account for this dryness observed by the panel. These results constitute molecular data that explain the restructured formulations with this fibre ingredient. In the same line, structure changes with grape antioxidant DF have also continued to be analysed, in terms of the relation of protein secondary changes and posible hydration of the fibre. One possible explanation for the structural, technological and sensory characteristics of the GADF-containing formulations is that the presence of lignin adsorbed onto the cellulose fibres, or other hydrophobic compounds such as condensed tannins, act avoiding excess water holding capacity of the fibre and in turn, excess dehydration and denaturation of the protein matrix.
A second series of gel products with white grape antioxidant dietary fibre were prepared, and experiments in the TIM system, simulating the upper GI tract of human adults, were performed under anaerobic conditions and prevention from UV light. The results so far, indicate that the antioxidants from grape fibre (whether or not added to the surimi) has a low bioaccessibility during gastrointestinal passage. The fact that the surimi with grape fibres did not show higher antioxidant capacity levels in dialysate than the surimi without grape fibres, may indicate that the bioaccessible fraction from grape fibre is too low to measure it on top of the antioxidants from surimi, or that there might be some interaction with the compounds in surimi, e.g. the fish proteins.
Implementation generated knowledge
The results obtained so far on the product development of restructured products and their interactions with data from consumer studies, have lead to a knowledge that can be applied to many product concepts based on restructured fish products. This knowledge is being used for the exploration of developing two near final products (Fish Tamales and seafood enriched with non commercial anti-oxidant dietary fibre products).