Consumer demand for fruit-based beverages like fresh ones with a better sensory experience is increasing. High pressure processing (HPP), as an alternative to Thermal processing (TP), can reach a similar level of pasteurization as TP and largely maintain the sensory quality and nutritional components.
This work started with an introduction to the performance of HPP, its advantages in ensuring safety and preserving sensory quality, and its influence on consumer acceptance. It then documented the difference in sensory quality between fruit juices treated with HPP and TP and stored under different conditions by conducting descriptive analysis with a trained panel. This investigation allowed to confirm the positive effect of HPP on sensory quality and to explore the different effect of processing treatments and storage conditions as well as their interaction on sensory quality. Consumer perception of these juice products was also investigated by conducting hedonic analysis. It uncovered how sensory attributes, as intrinsic aspects of the products, influenced consumer liking. Finally, the work provided insight into the influence of benefit claims on consumer perception of products treated with HPP by using both quantitative and qualitative methods. This insight differed from previous studies (mostly based on attitude surveys) by conducting actual sensory experiences and discussing the different roles of sensory benefit claims and health benefit claims in consumer liking. Individual differences were investigated to reveal their influence on consumer liking before and after exploring claims.
The key contributions and insights offered by this Ph.D. work include:
•A thorough review of the existing literature on the sensory quality and consumer perception of fruit-based beverages treated with HPP,
•An updated understanding of the complex effects of HPP on these products,
•An estimation of the sensory quality of juices affected by processing treatments and storage conditions,
•An insight into the intrinsic driver (sensory quality) and extrinsic driver (labelling information) of consumer liking for beverages treated with HPP,
•A methodological design (a mixed method with quantitative and qualitative tests) to investigate consumer liking,
•A conceptual solution for a helictical understanding of consumers in the future.
The findings of this PhD work have significant implications for industries at different stages of the industrial chains, from processing to the product itself and to consumers’ responses. The outcome of this work has the potential to support the application of other non-thermal processing technologies to food products.
A print copy of the thesis can be accessed at the Library.