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70. Panel demographics: What makes a great panel?

S. LANGSTAFF (1); (1) FlavorActiV Ltd., Fairfield, CA, U.S.A.


Over the past 13 years FlavorActiV has run a proficiency program with more than 40,000 sensory participants worldwide. All this data has been captured through a variety of testing methods, then stored and analyzed by FlavorActiV for panel leaders to facilitate further training, identify strengths and weaknesses, advise new product development, and improve product quality. However it can also be used to answer these fundamental panel demographic questions: What is the perfect panel group size? How important is panel stability? Who makes the better tasters, men or women? Does gender affect ability to perceive certain flavors? Which countries/regions are better at identifying certain flavors? Analysis of data taken from 600 global panels and more than 15,000 panelists, which was gathered through regular blind tasting sessions using various test parameters, has provided the evidence to answer these questions. We will discuss these questions and our findings, providing a fascinating and unique insight into panel performance globally.

Sue Langstaff is the owner of Applied Sensory, LLC, which provides sensory consulting to the wine, beer, and olive oil industries. She has a master’s degree in food science from the University of California at Davis, where she studied sensory science, enology, and brewing. Sue worked as a sensory scientist for Vinquiry, an analytical wine laboratory in California, and was an instructor at Napa Valley College, where she taught Sensory Evaluation of Wine, Analysis of Wines and Musts, Wines of the World, and Introduction to North Coast Wines. Sue has judged wine, beer, and olive oil at numerous competitions. Formerly, she was chair of the Sensory Evaluation Committee for the California Enological Research Association and leader of the UC Davis Olive Oil Taste Panel. Her research in sensory science has been published in several technical journals, and she has written a chapter entitled “Sensory Quality Control in the Wine Industry” in D. Kilcast (ed.), Sensory Analysis for Food and Beverage Control: A Practical Guide. Sue is co-editor of the book Olive Oil Sensory Science (Wiley/Blackwell, 2014) and is the creator of “The Defects Wheel for Wine, Beer and Olive Oil.” Sue was profiled in the bestseller Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (W. W. Norton and Co., 2013) by Mary Roach.

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