ONE of Scotland’s top food brands is looking for around 600 volunteers from the public to take part in blind taste tests.
In a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how products get to the mass market, Mackie’s is teaming up with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and its high-tech mobile sensory lab.
The Aberdeenshire-based family firm is using the Royal Highland Show (RHS) to gather feedback and competitor analysis on its new milk chocolate recipe as well as comparing its real dairy ice cream with an oil-based major brand product.
It will mark the largest event that the SRUC’s mobile sensory lab - a lorry trailer equipped with state-of-the-art food-testing technology and 12 illuminated taste-testing pods - will have attended to date.
Karin Hayhow, Marketing Director at Mackie’s, said: “This might well sound like an excuse for lots of fun – but we really do need a wide range of people to give us feedback on the taste of our products – that’s the most important attribute – and one that will inform what we go out to market with.
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“We always try to do something special for the RHS as it’s an integral part of the Mackie’s business, so we’re thrilled to be invited to participate on board the SRUC’s amazing new facility.
“Hopefully the participants will enjoy getting a peek into the behind-the-scenes process of testing products before they are released on to the market.”
Students at the college will be assisting with the sensory lab throughout the show, featuring a range of produce. SRUC reached out to invite Mackie’s thanks in part to its indelible links with the college.
Maitland Mackie, the founder of Mackie’s of Scotland, is the former Chairman of SRUC, formerly known as the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC), and is widely respected as an inspirational figure in Scottish agriculture and renewables.
The RHS takes place between Thursday 21st June until Sunday 24th June 2018 in Ingliston and Mackie’s sensory taste tests will run in 90-minute blocks from 11:00am till 12:30pm on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors are encouraged to visit the sensory lab, (which is located at the SRUC stand on seventh avenue) every day at the show from Thursday to Sunday for a variety of taste tests before or during those times to have the best possible opportunity to take part.
Dr Neil Clelland of SRUC said: “The fact that we own high-end testing equipment which we can take anywhere with us is incredible.
“The ability given to our researches to go out to the public is of paramount importance as it opens up for more research to be collected.
“It gives us a chance to learn more about the consumers’ food preferences and distinguish between different groups of people to ensure that they receive the best possible products.
“We are delighted to be working with Mackie’s and hope to continue to build positive relations between our two establishments through projects like this.”
The mobile sensory lab which is housed within an articulated lorry was funded by the Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL) and Innovate UK.
Through extensive product quality research, CIEL works to continuously improve livestock production, food quality and farming systems.
The mobile sensory unit was built in order to allow consumers around the UK to play an important role in livestock genetics.
As part of a three-year programme, the sensory lab will be used by SRUC’s world-leading livestock scientists to attend regional shows and other public events to collect data to support their genetic improvement research.