“I do not feel like I am ready to expand my market because I am not fully equipped.”
This has been a common testimony and a growing challenge for Micro, Small and Medium Entrepreneurs (MSMEs) of the food industry in the Province of Dinagat Islands (PDI) who wish to expand their markets outside the province.
Albeit the market potential of food industry is high, only a small portion of the Food MSMEs in Dinagat Islands understand the importance of Food Innovation and Development in expanding the market reach.
To address this, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Caraga thru the Provincial Science and Technology Center (PSCTC), introduced a training on Food Innovation, Development and Sensory Evaluation to 25 MSMEs from the different municipalities in the province. The four-day extensive training equipped the participants with the knowledge and skills on the scientific discipline of evaluating foods through natural sensory skills. The training also discussed the need to innovate products according to trends to meet present customer demands.
The training centered in coming up with a standard of food processing anchored to the quality and safety of the products delivered and served to the consumers worldwide. “In today’s trend, products which have maintained their quality and modified their products according to the consumers’ preferences will continue to dominate the market,” explained Professor Sylvia Aguhob of Xavier University and training facilitator.
Professor Aguhob also emphasized the necessity of food processors to be creative and be open in the innovation of their products. MSMEs have to keep the quality at its finest even when it requires price increase or replacement of material’s brand.
The ‘Science of Sensory Evaluation’
Sensory Evaluation in Food Industries originated in the 1940s when the expert tasters of tea, coffee and cheese industries started conducting quality assessment of their products. It was since then integrated in the entire product life cycle with the application in product development.
The product development includes tests on determining preferences, identifying sensory drivers of liking, targeting sensory-based consumer segments, competitor analysis, new concept development, product design and optimization, scale-up and cost reduction.
Prof. Aguhob introduced the types of test used in determining the quality and superiority of the products which were provided by the participants during the second day of the technology training.
The first test, Triangle testing, includes the Difference Test designed to compare two treatments; the Attribute Test compares two or more treatments to determine difference in the intensity of a specific attribute; Descriptive Test is designed to describe the attributes of importance of a product and its intensity; while the Consumer Test determines the preference or acceptance of the consumers to a product.
In the context of Quality Control and Marketing, Professor Aguhob explained the sensory specifications which ensures acceptability and delivery of emotional benefits in the innovation of food product processing.
Results of the Training
The training provided an opportunity for the food processors to be pioneers in the promotion of the delicacies in the province. It was considered to be the first training on Sensory Evaluation and Food Innovation conducted for the MSMEs in the island.
Through the Technology Training, the PSTC-PDI also tagged two (2) more potential Packaging and Labeling adaptors for this year.