There is no fresh produce category where as much attention is paid to variety selection, cultivation techniques, and taste as in the tomato category. Snack tomatoes, in particular, are popular among consumers.
Snack tomatoes are leading the way. They are a healthy and convenient snack option as they are easy to eat and require no preparation. Because of this convenience and an increased focus on taste, snack tomatoes have become one of the most popular items in supermarkets, leading to a significant increase in consumption. The development of the snack tomato concept has created a fast-growing product group within the tomato category.
In stores, consumers’ purchase decisions are often influenced by colour and consistency of quality. It is important to continue to check the quality on the shelf because a container of mouldy or split fruit may deter the consumer from purchasing at the supermarket. However, even after purchasing, consumers can be disappointed by soft fruit, for example, something that is not easily recognised when buying.
In order to increase consumption of snack tomatoes, it is essential that consumers are offered a good eating experience. The taste of tomatoes is largely determined by their sugar content. However, that’s not the only factor. The balance between sugar and acidity also influences the consumer’s taste experience. Ideally, the sugar level should be above 8 degrees Brix. The ideal acidity level varies and depends on the Brix value. The sweeter the tomato, the higher the acidity can be. This winter, however, we observed that the acidity of snack tomatoes was significantly higher than last winter, reaching values up to 1.6%. This can lead to reduced purchases and children finding the product less enjoyable, as these tomatoes are perceived to be more acidic.
In addition to Brix and acidity, firmness is often overlooked as an important parameter in tomato flavour. Tomatoes that are too hard will result in less flavour, while tomatoes that are too soft will be perceived as mealy. Mealy tomatoes, in particular, can lead to dissatisfied consumers who may temporarily stop making repeat purchases.
Developments in the tomato product group are currently under pressure as all attention is focused on developing new resistant tomato varieties. There is less time to develop good varieties because growers urgently need these new varieties.
Fortunately, we can see that in this rapid development, taste is also being considered, and the aim is to match the current quality as closely as possible in terms of taste.
The quality and availability of fruit and vegetables is constantly changing. In addition to daily activities such as inspecting fresh produce, there are new challenges. Think of reducing packaging materials, increasing focus on taste, educating new staff on fresh produce, improving specifications, optimising seasonal transitions, and introducing new cultivation techniques.
In this complex world of fruit and vegetables, Normec Foodcare is your partner. We enable you to control and manage fresh produce. We do this by:
Our team of fresh produce experts and inspectors are here to help. With years of knowledge and experience, we know better than anyone how you, as a grower, importer, or supermarket chain, can make a difference in fresh produce.
We are happy to assist you with complex quality issues. Together with you, we make a difference in the daily lives of consumers. See what we can do for you or contact us. Our fresh produce experts are ready to help you.
The tomato world is changing rapidly. ToRBFV is enforcing strict hygiene rules, and many new resistant or highly tolerant varieties are emerging. Growers must make decisions with less information, and seed companies are trying to introduce new varieties as quickly as possible. What are the consequences of this for production, quality, and the market? That’s why our specialists are organizing a mini Tomato Symposium.
Jumbo has its taste tests carried out by Normec Sensory. “Normec Sensory understands the business we are in”, says Johan Hulleman, quality manager at Jumbo. “They are fast, flexible and they think along with us.”
“Normec Sensory is a pleasant company to work with,” says Helen van Maarschalkerweerd, quality manager Consumer Surveys at Jumbo. “It’s nice that they move quickly. They ensure that we have a report within two weeks, even if something goes wrong. For example, it sometimes happens that a supplier delivers his products too late. Normec Sensory often finds a solution for this so that the process is not delayed.”
Jumbo is also satisfied with the quality of the work that Normec Sensory delivers. “They present us with questionnaires that fit well with the products we test”, says Helen. “We get to see these lists in advance, so that we can check if we are missing anything and whether the questions are relevant. It is important to us that they ask exactly the right questions, because otherwise they can put the consumer on the wrong track. For example, you should only ask about creaminess if a product actually has aspects that can be judged as creamy. The right question will ensure a reliable result.” Helen is also pleased with the way Normec Sensory reports the results. “We always get two reports, namely a summary and an extensive report. That way, we quickly have a good overview of the results. And for more depth we can consult the extensive report.”
Johan Hulleman also feels that Normec Sensory thinks along with them. “Everything is negotiable, and they always come up with good solutions. For example, we asked them to upload the reports in our system. That was no problem. This saves us a lot of work and we now always have an insight into the current status of our tests.” Normec Sensory also thinks along with Jumbo in other areas. “Most of the tests we have carried out by Normec Sensory are standard”, says Johan. “But sometimes we want something special. For example, it is sometimes desirable for consumers to test the products at home. Or we want to have a test carried out for which we need the result the same day. Such requests are almost never a problem. And we can always be present at the tests, if we want to. This way we see how the results come about and we better understand why consumers make certain choices.”
Helen also enjoys the fact that she gets to work with regular contacts. “They understand exactly what we want and what we mean. And yet they never assume anything without checking with us. When in doubt, they always check whether they have understood our request correctly. This way we always get the result that we had in mind. That makes it a party we can rely on. “
Do you want to be sure that the level of your product is good all year round? With our quality programme, we test your products several times a year. In this way you maintain or strengthen your position in the market.
Various questions are raised during the studies in the context of our quality programme. How does my product score over time? Does the consumer rating remain stable? How is the competitor developing? We are happy to answer these kinds of questions.
The Smaakhuis is a testing facility for Normec Sensory’s taste research, as well as other tests. We have a test facility in Amstelveen, Alkmaar, Den Bosch and Antwerp. Special, local panels are selected for each Smaakhuis, with people who enjoy testing products on a regular basis. Thanks to a unique and efficient workflow, we can offer this type of research at a very competitive rate. Our test centre is particularly focused on short single-product resting as well as comparative taste tests.
There are taste tests every single day at the Smaakhuis. Participants come to take part in one or more tests. Generally, the tests are completed in one day and we can provide you with a report of the results a few days later.
The Smaakhuis is set up to accommodate short taste-testing sessions, but naturally we can also do more extensive research. A short taste test is used to test one to three products, it includes a short questionnaire and it involves a standard target group. For these tests, panel members always visit the test centre to take part in several tests. When it comes to more extensive research with several forms of testing we will consult with you to meet your requirements. You will receive a tailor-made study with a specific questionnaire, a specific target group, x number of test subjects and specific research design.
Would you like to know more about your options? Please contact us.
The Normec NormBase is a unique database containing all the studies we have carried out. This wealth of information sets standards for more than three thousand specific product categories. You can choose to compare your product to this NormBase. This gives you a good insight into how your product scores compared to the average of the product category.
Another technique is the Purchase Index. This index is based on the question of the buying intention of respondents. It indicates the potential of the product. This potential depends on, among other things, familiarity, availability and out of stock situations. The standard that the Purchase Index must meet differs per product group.
A home placement is one of the most reliable forms of product research. We find out the consumer’s opinion in a place where they’re comfortable. This might be in their own homes or another location where the products are normally used. You can also find out the opinion of other family members in the product review. The result: a review that is as objective as possible.
Testers receive the product at home. They use the product when they normally would use such products with no outside influence. They answer questions about its user-friendliness and packaging, among other things, via an online questionnaire. You will receive a report from us ten days after delivery. We record all results in our Normec Database, which is unique in the industry. This database includes all of our research for the last three years, and includes all the average scores of all of our research, divided into product categories. This enables us to give you really specific advice about the feasibility of your product.
You can select a specific target audience from The Netherlands or Belgium, and you can include their partners and children with separate questionnaires.
Would you like more information, or find out how we can be of service you? Please contact us, we’re happy to help.
Door bundeling van alle expertises helpt Normec Foodcare met allerhande vraagstukken en oplossingen op het gebied van procesbeheersing, kwaliteit en voedselveiligheid, laboratoriumonderzoek, smaaktesten, QA-automatisering, flexibele inzet van kwaliteitsmanagers en keurmeesters, opleidingen en trainingen, risicomanagement en etiketcontrole.
Wil u meer weten? Neem contact met ons op.
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By bundling all expertise, Normec Foodcare helps with all kinds of issues and solutions in the field of process control, quality and food safety, laboratory research, taste tests, QA automation, flexible deployment of quality managers and inspectors, education and training, risk management and label control.
Do you want to know more? Please contact us.