Newsletter: The ESN year – sun, wind and sensory

The new year has just started, and it is time to look back on 2017.

For those of you with little time, here is the ESN year in a nutshell.

We are continually growing, and thus are investing in even more cutting-edge research. ESN collected and has begun to analyze the data from the big-data well-being project. Preliminary results were presented at the Pangborn Symposium and were received with a lot of interest. The ESN postdoc project is coming along, and the first experiments were conducted successfully. Two more ESN research projects were kicked-off during our meetings. In May, the results of a research project co-funded by ESN, was published in Food Research International. We welcomed in four new members, while several other organizations expressed interest in becoming members. We talked, discussed, planned, ate together, and are now eager to share our results and experiences with you.

If you are interested in more details about our meetings, our research and our members, read on.


the esn year – sun, wind and sensory

In Spring, the ESN members and partners met in Windsor, UK. Besides welcoming four new members, the members and partners discussed the first results of ESN´s latest research program, named the “well-being project”.

ESN members and partners enjoyed a special meal after a long work day in Windsor. The dinner took place at Windsor Guildhall (Prince Charles as well as Sir Elton John got married here.)

The study investigates how consumers associate “feeling good” with food, personal care and home care products. For example, the study participants were asked to write down the first four words that came to their mind when they thought about beauty products and feeling good. The ESN study involved consumers from five continents, 14 countries and ten language groups. Nearly 10,000 people answered an online questionnaire. “This is a big data project, and with every month we are gaining new insights”, explains ESN chair Claire Sulmont-Rossé from the Centre des Sciences du Goût et de l'Alimentation in Dijon, France.

refreshing, lotion, happy, smell

Some preliminary results were presented during the Pangborn Symposium 2017 in Providence, USA. “Peoples´ concepts of feeling good differ substantially between some countries. We found clusters of countries in which the concepts were more similar and some outlier countries with quite different ideas of feeling good. ESN member SAM International CEO and ESN vice chair Martin Kern presented the data at the Pangborn Symposium. He explained that China, Brazil and Germany are among the outliers. (You can listen to a talk by Martin Kern at the Sensory Science Group Conference on June 7th, 2018, in the UK.)

“Feeling good is an important driver for decisions in consumer´s daily life.” Martin Kern presenting ESN and the ESN well-being data at the Pangborn Symposium.

The Pangborn Symposium was a busy time for ESN members. Twelve percent of presenters at Pangborn belonged to an ESN member or partner organization. Many ESN research companies could be found in the exhibition hall. The well-being talk stirred a lot of interest in ESN. ESN members received inquiries from various Pangborn participants as how to they could become members or partners.

eclipse in providence

With over 1000 participants, the gathering in Providence was the biggest Pangborn Symposium so far. For those who couldn´t attend, a constant stream of social media posts made it possible to follow the event online. Here is an overview via Storify. Ludovic Deporteere CEO of ESN member Haystack International and ESN strategy chair summarized the highlights of the Pangborn symposium in a short video.

During the Pangborn Symposium we were happy to learn that Riette de Kock, ESN research chair and professor at the Department of Food Science at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, was honored at the Women in Science Awards 2017 with the title of Distinguished Woman Researcher: Research and Innovation. We are proud to have her in our network.

One highlight during the Pangborn Symposium was the partial eclipse. The street in front of the congress building filled up quickly, and special eclipse glasses were eagerly shared. Steve Willis from ESN member Tragon took a look at the sun at the peak of the partial eclipse.

kick-offs in berlin

This wasn´t the last natural spectacle that ESN sensory scientists were watching. During the ESN fall meeting in Berlin, Germany, storm Irma hit the streets of Berlin. While ESN members at the end of a busy meeting day were participating in a tai chi session, which addressed the “well-being” topic from a personal perspective, we watched the trees shake. City life nearly came to a halt, but we managed to circumvent the fallen trees on the street and enjoy an exceptional meal at Haus Sanssouci.

With a fresh wind behind our backs, ESN kicked off a couple of new projects during the Berlin meeting (you will hear about the topics and first results next year), and the ongoing ESN post-doc project was reviewed. Its first set of experiments was successfully conducted in December.

The ESN meetings are a lively mix of young and experienced sensory experts. To promote young talents such as ESN´s postdoc scientist Carol Mosca, ESN has started the “Raising stars” series, in which especially gifted young scientists are introduced to a wider audience. It’s good to see that the posts have received many likes, as well as job offers. If you know about a young researcher you would like to see promoted, send us an email.

At the ESN Berlin meeting, ESN members formed break-out groups to discuss the data from the well-being project.

publish and cherish

It is always something special when one of the projects that ESN was involved in gets published. In 2017 a study co-funded by ESN was published (link) in Food Research International. The study established the Temporal Drivers of Liking (TDL) as a new method for the sensory scientist´s toolbox. Pascal Schlich from ESN member INRA, France emphasizes that, “The study of temporal dominance is important in defining the specific flavor profile of many products, and is therefore useful in defining the identity of a brand.”

To write a paper is one thing, to write a book another. ESN members took on the challenge and summarized their sensory knowledge in books written for the professional community as well as lay people. Maurice O´Sullivan from ESN member University College Cork, Ireland, talks about his experience writing his latest book, “A Handbook for Sensory and Consumer-Driven New Product Development”, in an ESN video. Garmt Dijksterhuis from our member Wageningen UR Food & Biobased Research wrote “Hoe smaakt het? Nieuwe inzichten uit de wetenschap van proeven en ruiken” (How does it taste? New insights from the science of tasting and smelling).

During the year, we presented a couple of research results from our members via ESN video. For example, Nancy Holthuysen talks about the “airplane meal” study; Lise Dreyfuss explains the Consumer Facets TM, a new test that differentiates the psychological dispositions of consumers.

a peek into 2018

For this year, ESN members and partners are looking forward to EuroSense in Verona, Italy. The biannual European conference on sensory and consumer research will take place from the second to the fifth of September 2018. ESN is planning to put together a workshop for EuroSense similar to the one at the 2016 EuroSense meeting in Dijon. The workshop on immersive and virtual reality was a success, and over 200 people participated.

Claire Sulmont-Rossé summarizes that, “This is what ESN is all about: initiate sensory research, disseminate the results, and engage in a critical discussion about the implication of those results.”

We wish you an exciting 2018 and hope to connect with you – at EuroSense, at our meetings, or in the ESN social media space.