Pagliarini, E., Spinelli, S., Proserpio, C., Monteleone, E., Fia, G., Laureati, M., Gallina Toschi, T., & Dinnella, C. (2022). Sensory perception and food neophobia drive liking of functional plant‐based food enriched with winemaking by‐products. Journal of Sensory Studies37(1), e12710.

The use of phenol compounds obtained from unripe grapes as antioxidant sustainable food ingredients is challenging due to their specific sensory attributes, such as sourness and astringency.

The aim was to evaluate sensory attributes perception and consumers’ liking for beetroot purees added with phenols from unripe grapes. According to hedonic responses, consumer clusters were identified and characterized for eating behavioral attitudes. Three hundred two subjects (56% women, 18–60 years old) evaluated sweet, sour, astringency, and overall flavor intensity of and liking for four beetroot puree samples added with increasing phenols concentrations (0–1.93 g/kg).

Results showed that liking decreased with increasing phenols. Interestingly, samples with highest phenols concentration, characterized by sourness, and astringency, were preferred by a segment of consumers (39% of the group). This group was characterized by a low food neophobia and tended to have high emotional eating scores compared to consumers preferring samples without or with the lowest amount of extract.

These results suggest that the development of functional phenol-enriched products using winemaking by-products is challenging due to their sensory properties that negatively influence consumers’ acceptance. However, with appropriate segmentation strategies it is possible to identify specific consumer targets who could appreciate these new functional foods.

Practical Applications

Unripe grapes can be used as a sustainable phenol source for the development of new highly antioxidant foods. Indeed, an addition till 1.9 g/kg, besides improving both the nutritional content of the food matrices, as well as promoting the reuse of winemaking by-products, could be considered feasible from a sensory point of view.

Specifically, new sustainable plant-based food product, characterized by specific sensory attributes, could be target for specific groups of consumers to foster the transition to the consumption of food products developed using value-added and sustainable ingredients.