The Consumer Insights Research Laboratory provides sensory science and market research support for regional food companies while creating experiential learning opportunities for students, workers, and the community.

The Laboratory is part of the Harrisburg University Food Science & Technology Center located in Harrisburg, PA. It offers discrimination and descriptive analyses of food products in a new sensory laboratory facility. The Consumer Insights Research Laboratory also provides academic and experiential learning opportunities in the form of internships, student work-study, and research projects in addition to sensory science courses.

Sensory evaluation is the primary assessment tool used in sensory food science and is defined as a scientific method designed to measure responses to products such as food through the primary senses of taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing. Food sensory science supports all three major areas of food production including food safety and quality, market research, and manufacturing.

A variety of issues can be addressed with this scientific approach including the following among others:

  • All stages of product development
  • Impact of ingredient substitution on the quality and consumer acceptance of a food product
  • Effect of food safety controls on affective qualities of food products
  • Effect of manufacturing or packaging changes on flavor, color, and other food properties
  • Shelf life stability studies
  • Consumer acceptance, interest, and demand for new products in development
  • Product packaging, images, and marketing elements to maximize consumer product acceptance and purchasing