The research unit integrates the skills of the C3A and the Research and Innovation Center to develop and apply innovative and multidisciplinary methodologies for an integrated approach to the objective definition of the perceivable quality of food products and for the understanding of consumers’ responses in terms of perception, preference and food choices.
The research supports the innovation of products and processes in agriculture and agro-industry and contributes to the development of the production potential both at local and national level and to the improvement of the quality level of food in response to the needs of an increasingly aware and demanding consumer. Of fundamental relevance is the investigation of multisensory perception mechanisms and the inter-individual variability in sensory responses for the comprehension of consumers’ development of preferences and eating behaviours with the aim to support of both new strategies promoting healthier eating habits and new food products development. Strategic is the research activity for the implementation of innovative methods, with particular attention to non-invasive, rapid and online techniques for product characterization and process monitoring: in particular through the analysis of volatile compounds responsible for odors and flavors (GC-MS, PTR-MS) and the physical and mechanical properties associated with the consistency or visual aspects (texture analyzer, colorimeter and electronic eye). Continuous are the actions to improve the specificity, the sensitivity of the methods for the rapid and high sensitivity monitoring of the volatile fraction through direct injection mass spectrometry.
The group has significant expertise in
- the main sensory and consumer science methodologies, with particular attention to rapid innovative methods that meet the needs of industries and the dynamic method coupled to in-vivo analysis for monitoring the release of aromas during food consumption;
- advanced instrumental methods based on the rapid and on line detection of volatile compounds responsible for odors and flavors and for the analysis of physical properties related to structure and appearance (Texture analyzer with acoustic detector, Image analyzer and colorimeter);
- chemometry and sensometry with advanced multivariate modelling techniques to efficiently and accurately treat sensory and instrumental data sets alone and in combination with each other or with consumer profiling data (i.e.: socio-demographic, psychological and personality traits) and composition of the product analyzed.