Margaret Malochleb

Margaret Malochleb


In a study of blood and Cara Cara oranges, consumers preferred varieties that were low in bitterness and sourness. © Leonsbox/iStock/Getty Images Plus


In a study of blood and Cara Cara oranges, consumers preferred varieties that were low in bitterness and sourness. © Leonsbox/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Sensory evaluation of specialty oranges

Recent research published in the Journal of Food Science uncovered the sensory properties that may drive consumer acceptance of blood and Cara Cara oranges. During the study, Moro, Tarocco, Cara Cara, Shahani, Bream Tarocco, Boukhobza, and Sanguinelli oranges from both commercial and research orchards were tested with adults and children.

Overall, consumers preferred the lighter colored varieties consisting of Tarocco, Cara Cara, and Boukhobza. One cluster of adults showed preferences toward sweet and fruity flavors. A second adult cluster was tolerant of sour fruit but did not like fruit high in bitterness and flavonoid content. The largest child cluster showed preferences for samples higher in orange and tropical flavors (Cara Cara, Tarocco, and Boukhobza varieties).

Although focus group participants were relatively unfamiliar with blood oranges, the appearance of the Cara Cara was strongly liked by the consumer population in both quantitative and qualitative settings. Growers and producers may want to invest in Cara Cara, Tarocco, Boukhobza, and Shahani varieties, as these were liked by a majority of consumers and were low in less desirable sensory characteristics, such as bitterness and sourness. The study results could help enhance the use of specialty oranges by the food, beverage, and foodservice industries.

Storytelling tops trends for 2020

Consumers’ growing interest in the stories behind their food and beverage products has caused companies to pay more attention to storytelling in their branding strategies, according to Innova Market Insights, which named “Storytelling: Winning with Words” the top trend for 2020.

Although ingredient provenance has always been important, Innova Market Insights notes that the story behind foods is increasingly influencing purchasing decisions. As a result, manufacturers are focusing on ingredient provenance platforms to highlight the taste and quality of their products, as well as their uniqueness and sustainability efforts. Provenance platforms can also communicate messages about flavor/taste, processing methods, cultural and traditional backgrounds, and geographical origin. Other trends on the top five list are:

Plant-Based Revolution: As the term “plant-based” moves into the mainstream, the industry is challenged to deliver more clean label meat and dairy alternatives with improved nutritional profiles.

The Sustain Domain: Eighty-five percent of U.S. and UK consumers, on average, expected companies to invest in sustainability in 2019. In the area of food waste, upcycling is the new recycling, as companies strive to create value from by-products. In packaging, the focus is on using less of it, as well as developing sustainable alternatives.

The Right Bite: Stress and anxiety are key concerns as consumers strive to maintain health, both physically and mentally. Balancing the benefits and costs of busy lifestyles has raised the demand for nutritious foods that are easy to prepare, convenient, and portable. Indulgent treats play a role in relaxation and enjoyment.

Tapping into Texture: Consumers increasingly recognize the influence of texture on food and beverages, allowing a heightened sensory experience and often a greater feeling of indulgence, with 68% of U.S. and UK consumers, on average, sharing the opinion that textures contribute to a more interesting food and beverage experience.

Europe leads in organic launches

The total share of new global food and drink product launches with organic claims has risen from 6% to 10% over the last 10 years, with 17% of all launches coming from Europe, according to new research from Mintel.

“Our research shows that the European market is spearheading organic food and drink innovation, with France, Germany, and Spain leading the way,” said Katya Witham, global food & drink analyst. “Although organic products have fully entered mainstream channels and continue to gain traction with shoppers, the organic segment still offers innovation opportunities across numerous food and drink categories.”

Among European launches, free-from claims grew from 20% to 43% over the past 10 years, and ethical claims experienced similar increases, trends that are the result of organic claims “becoming part of wider health and ethical product positioning,” according to Witham.

Among consumers in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Poland, Millennials and Gen Zs are the most likely to purchase organic food and drink. They are also willing to pay more for them. “Generation Z has grown up at a time when health and wellness is high profile. For younger generations, the social and environmental impact of consumption is of great importance and this is likely to help fuel future growth of the organic sector,” explained Witham.


Antibiotic resistance in livestock nearly triples

The growing appetite for animal protein in developing countries has resulted in a smorgasbord of antibiotic consumption for livestock that has nearly tripled the occurrence of antibiotic resistance in diseasecausing bacteria easily transmitted from animals to humans, according to a recent report in the journal Science.

Researchers from ETH Zurich, the Princeton Environmental Institute, and the Free University of Brussels gathered nearly 1,000 publications and unpublished veterinary reports from around the world to create a map of antimicrobial resistance in low- to middle-income countries. They focused on Escherichia coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Staphylococcus aureus, all of which cause serious disease in animals and humans.

Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of antibiotics showing rates of resistance above 50% in developing countries increased in chickens from 0.15 to 0.41 and in pigs from 0.13 to 0.34, according to the researchers. This means that antibiotics that could be used for treatment failed more than half the time in 40% of chickens and one-third of pigs raised for human consumption.

Antibiotic resistance in livestock was most widespread in China and India, with Brazil and Kenya emerging as new hotspots. Since 2000, meat production has accelerated by more than 60% in Africa and Asia, and by 40% in South America. More than half of the world’s chickens and pigs are in Asia.

The researchers suggest that developing nations should restrict the use of human antibiotics in farm animals and that affluent nations should support a transition to sustainable farming, possibly through a global fund to subsidize biosafety and biosecurity improvements. Otherwise, the unrestricted use of antibiotics in animals raised for human consumption could lead to the global spread of infectious bacteria that are increasingly difficult to treat.

Restaurant reviews are not equally valued

Consumers give less value to online restaurant reviews written on mobile devices than to those written on other platforms, according to a study of 275,000 reviews conducted by researchers from the University of Connecticut, Boston College, and Peking University.


Restaurant reviews written on a mobile device received 10% to 40% fewer likes than reviews generated on laptop or desktop computers. © juststock/iStock/Getty Images Plus


Restaurant reviews written on a mobile device received 10% to 40% fewer likes than reviews generated on laptop or desktop computers. © juststock/iStock/Getty Images Plus

“While consumers initially value real-time mobile content similarly to nonmobile content, over time they seem to observe distinct differences in platform-specific content and, as the mobile platform matures, they come to view mobile reviews as less helpful,” said study co-author Nicholas Lurie.

The authors analyzed the writings of 117,827 reviewers who described their experiences at 13,976 restaurants, along with a dual-platform sample of 21,026 reviews written by 673 reviewers who wrote at least four mobile and four nonmobile reviews. Mobile reviews were associated with 10% to 40% fewer likes than reviews generated on laptop or desktop computers.

One reason may be that the real-time nature of mobile device reviews does not allow reviewers enough time to reflect. “Encouraging word-of-mouth through mobile reviews has pros and cons,” said study coauthor Sam Ransbotham. “Because mobile reviews may not benefit from reflection, mobile platforms may actually be encouraging feedback from less-engaged customers.”

About the Author

Margaret Malochleb, Associate Editor, [email protected]
Margaret Malochleb