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ISSUE 6 2018
research also found that Irish consumers
prefer milk from pasture-based feeding
systems over concentrate-based feeding
systems. "Aspects of this research can
be used to market a point of difference
between Irish pasture-based feeding and
concentrate feeding widely applied in other
Cross-cultural research
"We are currently leading research on the
cross-cultural sensory perception of Irish
dairy products with researchers in Ireland,
the US and China. We have already seen
significant differences between Chinese,
North American and Irish consumers'
perception of skim milk powder (SMP)."
For example, Kieran explains that
North American consumers more easily
identified differences between SMP from
concentrate-fed animals and pasture-based
systems. Irish consumers prefer SMP
from pasture-based feeding systems and
Chinese consumers were less sensitive
to differences in SMP derived from either
feeding system, but had very different
perceptions for some sensory attributes
than the US or Irish consumers.
"We found a compound call p-cresol, it's a
phenolic compound that has a barn-yard
or farm-yard aroma. Irish people don't
easily perceive it, in part because we are
used to eating dairy products that are
from pasture-based systems that contain
this compound, but US consumers who
are used to concentrate-fed products with
much less p-cresol perceive it very easily.
Initially we thought it might be negative,
but US consumers are now beginning to
associate it with an `organic dairy flavour'.
As Chinese consumers have little or no
tradition of eating dairy products, they
have no pre-conceived conceptions of how
it should taste and therefore appear less
sensitive to differences; however we are
continuing to do much more research on
this topic."
Fermenting flavours
We also work closely with colleagues in the
Teagasc Bioscience department investigating
the flavour potential of lactic acid bacteria
and yeasts in fermented products. We can
select bacteria and yeasts based on their
genetic flavour potential and ability to express
these activities
in situ in media or in model
systems. Prospective strains are subsequently
evaluated in targeted, fermented applications
as either single strains or in strain
combinations for augmentation of existing
products or in product development.
Kieran explains that Teagasc is working a
lot with the food industry to identify ways in
which they can add value. One example is
to create specific natural flavour compounds
from food and beverage waste streams
through targeted fermentation. "Once we
understand the fermentation pathways
involved to create the flavour compound(s)
of interest, we can select the waste stream
based on its composition and the micro-
organism based on its genetic capability for
the task. The final approach is to optimise
the process to maximise the yield of the
flavour compound. It's a potential big added-
value proposition because it will convert a
waste stream into an added-value product
that is then sold on as an ingredient."
Most of our focus is on volatile compounds
because aroma makes up about
80 per cent of flavour with thousands
of potential compounds involved.