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Posted on: May 17th, 2021

By Liza McMahon, Intern – Biofortis Research

I have always been a huge foodie, and a few years ago I started a food blog on Instagram called @llizagna. I photograph and post pictures of food that look amazing, and in the captions I let my followers know how they tasted and if I would recommend them. Something I have learned from running this account is that food can look really appetizing and aesthetically pleasing, but if it tastes bad, no one will eat it. The opposite is true as well. Food can be really tasty, but if it looks gross, consumers will not buy it.

Last summer, I worked as a marketing intern at Biofortis Research, a division of Merieux NutriSciences in Addison, IL. Before my internship, I did not realize how much work goes into making products both look and taste appetizing. Biofortis helps companies fine-tune their products in both of these aspects. The Addison location has a Sensory and Consumer Insights department where they are contracted by food companies to conduct studies on their products to make sure they are accepted and presented to the best of their ability. Biofortis recruits everyday consumers and trains professional taste testers to test and review products. With the testers’ feedback, the sensory scientists of Biofortis/Merieux systematically evaluate and present the products’ scores and acceptability to the sponsoring companies.

Clinical Trials & Scientific Consulting

The other department at Biofortis is the Clinical Trials and Scientific Consulting division. This group conducts clinical trials, manages the data, publishes manuscripts and much more. Companies hire Biofortis to conduct studies that often support marketing claims, such as “lowers cholesterol” or “aids weight loss.” Recently, Biofortis provided the scientific report used in an FDA-approved qualified health claim submitted on behalf of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., which states that consuming cranberry products can lower the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections.

Biofortis’ two departments go hand-in-hand and support the point I stated earlier. Consumers might be interested in a product because of the beneficial health claims on its label, but if it looks or tastes bad, no one will want it. Again, the opposite is true as well. Something could look and taste great, but a consumer might choose an alternate product that has beneficial health claims. There is so much that goes into understanding what a consumer looks for in their products. I have taken what I learned at Biofortis and applied it to my food blog. Now, I make sure to discuss not only a food’s taste and appearance, but its health benefits (or lack thereof) as well. Biofortis has shown me that there is so much that goes into perfecting a product, and it comes down to understanding what consumers want.

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