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Snacking Preferences of Mothers and their Children

Project

Sensory Spectrum reviewed consumer snacking preferences. The objectives were 1) to characterize snacking behavior in moms and their children in order to understand the needs a snack must fulfill and 2) to link consumer language to descriptive language in terms of apple flavor and texture.

“Fruit… was mothers’ first snack food choice for their children.”

Process

Sensory Spectrum consultant panel evaluated varied apple cultivars and pre-sliced apples. The descriptive information from the consultant panel was compared to qualitative consumer information from Sensory Spectrum’s Community Narrative Panel (SCAN) panel.

Outcome

In this study, we learned that mothers’ sought to fill emotional and functional needs with snacks and that they wanted healthy and portable snacks for their children. Mothers’ first snack food choice for themselves was chocolate, which was perceived as indulgent and a mood-enhancer. Fruit, which mothers’ perceived as healthful and filling, was mothers’ first snack food choice for their children. Pre-sliced apples may offer healthfulness and portability, but the consultant panel noticed a chlorine off-note in some of these products. Honey crisp apples, on the other hand, were identified as pleasing because of their honey and floral character, which the consumers described as mild and sweet. This information generated a two-step action plan. 1) The flavor of pre-sliced apples could be adjusted to mimic that of honey crisp apples, which would increase the suitability of pre-sliced apples as a snack for children. 2) Using the elicited consumer terminology in marketing messages could indicate to target consumers that the product will have the desired sensory properties.

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