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Symposia Spring 2022

This spring, we were very excited to be able to attend two in-person symposia again. After two years of online events, it felt good to see everyone again. 

Symposium: Implicited Measures of Food Expierence

The first symposium we attended was organized by the University of Twente and called “Implicit Measures of Food Experience”Dr. Sylvan Delpanque of the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, opened the first session with the title “Relaxing and stimulating properties of pleasant food odours: a new psychophysiological approach.” Sylvan oversees the EmOder (Emotion & Odor) scientific project, which is the result of a collaboration between the University of Geneva and Firmenich S.A. During his talk he shared some of the research he has been working on, such as a study in which they tried to investigate if odours can have a long-lasting effect on emotions. The findings of this research indicate that there was more connectivity in the brain after smelling energizing odours versus relaxing odours.


The day continued with a talk from Liesbeth Zandstra from Wageningen University and Research presenting work related to liking and choice. How can we make sure that the healthy option is the preferred one? We discovered that there is no simple answer to this question. Multiple factors can influence this choice, not only the product itself but also the consumer’s mindset, the context and environment. Future research should consider all these factors. 


Another interesting talk was given by Garmt Dijksterhuis from the Wageningen University, who provided an overview of the latest technologies that are being used to measure consumer-related variables, how applicable they are and how effective. Virtualized food products, VR and AR

technology, and immersive spaces are just a few examples of these technologies. More information about this can be found here. 


Ivo Stuldreher, MSc (TNO) discussed his research on measuring implicit Approach-Avoidance

Tendencies towards foods using a mobile phone outside the lab. The Approach Avoidance Task can be used to assess implicit (‘unconscious’) approach–avoidance attitudes towards stimuli (AAT). Together with his group of researchers, Ivo recently updated a toolbox for evaluating the raw data from a new, mobile version of the AAT (mAAT), which asks participants to move their phone towards their face (pull) or away from their face (push) in reaction to visuals displayed on the phone. In this work, the mAAT reaction time and the mAAT distance were investigated. The new mAAT distance measure could be utilized as an implicit arousal indicator. More information about the mAAT can be found here.


The final presentation was done by Dr. J. Haarman (University of Twente) in which she introduced us to the Sensory Interactive Table (SIT). This is an interactive dining table with sensors. The table has 199 load cells that can measure weight with an accuracy of 1 gram. Furthermore, the table surface of the SIT includes 8358 LEDs that can be used to interact with the people sitting at the table. More information about this table can be found here. 


Following the symposium was the public defence of Daisuke Kaneko, who spoke about his PhD

research on “Methods to assess food-evoked emotions across cultures”. His PhD research focussed on determining the explicit and implicit responses to assessments, as well as studying their emotional perception and estimating a link between implicit behaviour and neurophysiological measurements. During his PhD, Daisuke developed a new scale for evaluating emotions: the EmojiGrid. The emoji grid was designed to include food-related face expressions which can be used to measure valence on the horizontal axis and arousal on the vertical axis.

Figure 1. The EmojiGrid: an emoji-labeled Affect Grid for the measurement of food-related affective associations 1

1 Toet A, Kaneko D, Ushiama S, Hoving S, de Kruijf I, Brouwer A-M, Kallen V and van Erp JBF (2018)  EmojiGrid: A 2D Pictorial Scale for the Assessment of Food Elicited Emotions. Front. Psychol. 9:2396.  doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02396

Symposium: A taste of Change

Soon after we attended the another symposium named “A taste of Change”. This symposium was

organized by the MOA (Dutch Expertise Center for Marketing Insights, Research and Analytics). Every 2-3 years the MOA organises a symposium. This year it took place at the Food Innovation Academy (FIA) in Vlaardingen, the Netherlands. The FIA aims to inspire and train young people for careers in the food industry. Many interested talks were held on a variety of topics. 


Wim Vaessen from Essensor discussed the type of research they conduct at Essensor and challenges they foresee for sensory market research. For example, how consumers will balance values and immediate rewards, or how consumers can be nudged to healthy and/or sustainable products with persuasion.


Annie Neller and James Gater from MMR Research Worldwide also gave us insights in how they see the future of sensory research. They expect that research will go beyond numbers, allowing panelists to express themselves in their own words. They also expect a transition from the traditional surveys to a more engaging experience for the panelists with more measurements “in the moment”. They mentioned examples like the use of augmented reality for early-stage packaging improvement and consumer-created movies to record reactions and experiences from the perspective of the consumer.


The presentation from Bas Klarenbeek (Tony’s Chocolonely) clearly showed the vision of Tony’s

Chocolonely to have 100% slave free chocolate. Inspiring was that they do not want this only for 

their chocolate but for all chocolate worldwide. They are currently aspiring to make

100% slave free the norm in chocolate.


We were honoured to be asked to also give a presentation at this symposium. Sandra Beekhuizen, Team Manager of the Support and Consultancy department at EyeQuestion, gave a parallel session titled “Emerging digital techniques in sensory research”. Sandra presented some of the studies we performed at our own research center (Blingetest) including virtual reality, speech-to-text and text-to-speech techniques and eye tracking. She also shared future topics that we expect will contribute to the evolution of sensory and consumer science. For example more consumer engagement during tests and the uses of smart devices for measuring real-life behaviour.

Figure 2. Presentation by Sandra Beekhuizen at the symposium “A Taste of Change”. Photo taken by MOA.

After the parallel sessions the symposium continued with a presentation from the team of Aigora

(Tian Yu and John Ennis) combined with Thierry Worch from Friesland Campina. They provided us

knowledge in how to use machine learning for consumer segmentation. 


Finally, the last presentation was given by Kees de Graaf from the Wageningen University who

recently retired. During his presentation he gave an overview of the work his department of

Sensory Science and Eating Behaviour has done under his leadership. He received a hearty round of applause and many compliments after his presentation.


Ending with a toast to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Essensor, we looked back at two interesting symposia. Not only we gained new knowledge and ideas but were also delighted to meet our friends from the sensory and consumer industry again in person!