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The Impact Of Texture On Taste Perception

On Food Navigator, there was an interesting short interview with Matthew Patrick, VP of R&D for TIC Gums where he suggests that “food and beverage product developers spend a shockingly low amount of time examining how texture may impact a finished product.” In beer, of course, texture is more often referred to as “mouthfeel.” And while when judging beer, mouthfeel is a consideration it’s usually not the primary one. Honestly, I’m really not sure how often brewers tinker with their recipes specifically to get a particular mouthfeel though it’s clear that many beers have great ones and many otherwise solid beers suffer for having a less than pleasant or ideally suited mouthfeel.

He’s talking primarily about texture in food and non-alcoholic beverages, though he singles out what he refers to as “low-viscosity beverages” like “tea” as products who didn’t give much thought to their texture. Beer’s viscosity has quite a range, from thin pilsners and golden ales to thick, rich oatmeal and imperial stouts so I can’t say where beer falls in TIC Gums’ viscosity scale. But there’s no doubt that mouthfeel is at least one of the many factors that add up to a beer’s overall taste profile. What a brewer can, or should, do about it seems like a worthy discussion to have.

The impact of texture on taste perception

There’s also a summary of the interview from the Food Navigator website:

Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA at the Research Chefs Association conference and expo in Atlanta, Patrick explained that texture can have wide-ranging influence on consumer perception of a food or beverage product.

For example, texture can influence the way saltiness or sugariness is perceived, meaning that different textures can make a product seem more or less sweet or salty even if the level of sugar or salt remains the same. That effect is something that product developers need to be particularly aware of, as many are cutting sugar or salt in products in response to demand for healthier foods and drinks.

Patrick added that low-viscosity beverages, such as teas, represent one area in which there is particular potential for enhancing consumer experience of a product through subtle textural differences.

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