Meet Rob: the sensory analyst delving into the data of our taste preferences

sensory analyst treatt

What does a sensory analyst do?

My role as a sensory analyst mainly involves co-ordinating and collecting consumer and statistical data on our ingredients through sensory assessments. I do this through sensory panels where staff can participate, to help us acquire some of this data.

These insights then help us to better understand the products we manufacture - whether that’s ensuring a newer blend is comparable in aroma and taste to its standard, or obtaining consumer opinions on a reduced sugar beverage which features products in our health and wellness range. This data can help to tell me some key things - such as how it compares against a full sugar version, does it affect the flavour profile, is it any sweeter, or is it preferable?

Consumer panels are a great way for people to get involved and give us their opinions. They don’t need to be trained or be familiar with the product being assessed. It’s a great way to feed back and play a pivotal part in the success of the products we manufacture.

How did you get started as a sensory analyst?

I started my Treatt journey in the samples department. This was a fantastic role that gave me access to almost all departments throughout the business; most notably the technical teams and the many samples that would pass between us over the years.

This then led to a project to gather sugar reduction data for our health and wellness range. Five years on and this role has evolved into the broader sensory assessing I’m now primarily responsible for.

What’s the best part of your job?

One of the things I enjoy most is working across all departments around Treatt and maintaining working relationships with everyone, which I think highlights the great culture we have here – one of the best I’ve experienced in my career.

I really enjoy presenting taste panels to people from any department and of any tasting ability, to capture their opinions and feedback on some of the great work our technical teams are involved in.

What are the key trends / what will impact beverage in the future?

Making tasting panels quicker and easier to participate in is a big driver for myself and others in the industry and something I’m keen to progress at our new UK Headquarters in particular.

One interesting digital innovation currently being discussed in the industry is ‘facial analysis capture’ which involves reading the assessors face to determine their true reactions to a tasting. At the moment we use a number of different sensory evaluation methods to remove bias from the taste tests and while this technology may be a few years away, it could be a really interesting way to get true, unbiased data – definitely one to watch for future.

Any tips for someone thinking of becoming a sensory analyst?

I think having a natural flair for statistics, using Excel and data visualisation are useful skills to have when grappling with the raw data.

Most importantly, having an understanding that everyone will approach a sensory panel differently and being adaptable to people’s expectations versus your own is a key component.

What’s your favourite drink?

I have a reputation for being a Monster addict, but if my day doesn’t start with a cup of tea then I’m no use to anyone.

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