ESN newsletter December 2016

2016 has been an eventful year for ESN and the sensory science community. ESN has gained four new members, and we are glad to aggregate ever more knowledge and expertise.

Four new members

Monell Center (USA), the world’s leading research center on smell and taste, has joined us, as has the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University (DK). We also welcome Tragon (USA) to the team, a new member that provides strong software skills (red jade). UK-based Sensory Dimensions brings an in-depth understanding of sensory and consumer research methods to the table.

Most importantly, our four new members offer us a chance to connect with Robert, Derek, Dough, and Pam – four experts who share our desire for new and innovative research.

Unusal, but tasty. New ESN member Robert Margolskee (Monell Center) tries a choco-banana-cake, which is made for people suffering from anosmia, during the ESN meeting in Wageningen.

With five out of 28 ESN members being non-European, is ESN now becoming the International Sensory Network? "No, our core lays still in the European scientific community and the European market", emphasizes ESN chair Claire Sulmont-Rossé. "But we look for non-EU members to add special expertise in terms of technics, knowledge, cultures and markets."

More time for research

With ESN gaining new members and partners, the budget for research is growing. Currently, ESN is involved with four research projects. The exact topics are only known to ESN members and partners, but will be published at the end of the project. You might remember a study published last year; the “implicit emotion measurements” was a research program co-founded by ESN.

ESN research is characterized by an innovative and cross-cultural approach, and supports risk-taking. You may have gotten a glimpse of our future plans if you attended the September EuroSense conference in Dijon this year. 

The smartphone in one hand, the cardboard in the other. Participants of the ESN workshop are getting ready to experience a virtual reality movie with an odor.

At EuroSense, we presented two workshops dedicated to sensory methods that involve digital devices and virtual reality (vr). Over 300 people visited the ESN workshops and assured us that, indeed,  “The future is digital” (the name of an ESN video by Ludovic Deporteere). Whether or not you have been there, tried out our ESN cardboard, tasted the mustard candy or smelled the tomato sauce while watching a vr scene – it’s fun to take a look at what went on at EuroSense. Go here for a rough overview in photos, words and video clips.  

Sylvie Issanchou from INRA, France is immersing herself in a kitchen where a chef is preparing a delicious tomato sauce. The question behind this test: can vr simulate an environment so that the liking of an odor is closer to real life?

New Research manager on board

ESN has met this year in Vienna, Austria, and in Wageningen, the Netherlands. Besides getting to know our new members and working on our research projects, we also welcomed our new research manager, Jean McEwan. As an experienced sensory scientist with a strong background in statistics, research management and cross-cultural research, Jean is supporting the ever growing number of research projects.

And she is no newbie to ESN; she was among the handful of sensory scientists who founded ESN in 1989. “The goals of ESN haven´t changed, I can see”, says Jean. “But there are many more members, partners, projects, and therefore more managerial tasks. I´m happy to step in.”

Besides the ESN research projects ESN scientists are busy with their own projects. It is difficult to keep up with all the publications, but here are just three to wet your appetite (for more, visit our website).

  • What makes adults eat more veggies: choice or variety?
    Providing choice and/or variety during a meal: Impact on vegetable liking and intake
    Odile Parizel (INRA, France) et al. Appetite, 2017, 391–398.
    - link
  • What improves the feeling of fulfillment when drinking a non-alcoholic beer?
    What’s in a name? The effect of congruent and incongruent product names on liking and emotions when consuming beer or non-alcoholic beer in a bar
    Ana Patricia Silva, (Escola Superior de Biotecnologia Porto, Portugal) et al. Food Quality and Preference, 2017, 58–66. - link
  • Are you 100% up-to-date with novel and effective sensory-based methods for new product development?
    A Handbook for Sensory and Consumer-Driven New Product Development, 1st Edition by Maurice O´Sullivan (University College Cork, Ireland), Woodhead Publishing. - link

Bundled up and ready to go – Maurice O´Sullivan from the University College Cork, Ireland, during an ESN meeting in Iceland. This year he finished a project that was especially near to his heart: a handbook for sensory scientists.

The year is coming to an end, and the plans for ESN 2017, long in the making, are about to be put into action. Expectations run high. “Expectations are more important than Sensory” exclaimed Hal MacFire during the last lecture at EuroSense. To make his point, Hal MacFire used a slide with the research results of Ep Köster, one of the founders of ESN. The research methods and projects of ESN might change over time, but the basic questions remain the same: how do we perceive products and why do we like them? These questions go deeper than the senses. Let’s explore together for more answers.

Kind regards,

Claire Sulmont-Rossé and the Board of ESN