One of the research interests of the Product Development Research Centre is consumers’ perception of product quality and the use of consumers to define product quality. The centre has two postgraduate students working in this research area and is working with both local and international companies to develop consumer orientated quality programmes. Central to this theme is using a range of consumer sensory methodologies that enable a relationship to be established between the consumer liking or quality perception and one or more quality measures.
Silver Fern Farms
In 2013, in conjunction with Texas Tech University we assisted Silver Fern Farms develop their beef eating quality system, which involved large scale consumer testing in the USA and New Zealand. Working to a tight deadline we had 3960 consumers rate the liking for a total of 23,760 portions of beef over seven testing locations across New Zealand. The testing involved groups of 20 consumers tasting six samples in a one-hour session and typically three groups per evening. For each of the six rounds, 20 samples were cooked and served simultaneously to the 20 consumers. Over different evenings the effect of three different cook methods on meat liking was evaluated.
Silver Fern Farms used the resulting liking data to produce a mathematical formula that expressed consumer liking in terms of grading criteria. The results of this study were used to launch a new premium range, called beef EQ by Silver Fern Farms. Using the consumer-derived formula enables a consistently high quality to be delivered to the consumer.