Focus on… The Flash Profile

8 February 2019 Christine URBANO Comments Off

Is your aim to perform sensory characterization of your products using a qualitative and quantitative approach, but you have neither the time nor the budget to set up a sensory panel? Then you might want to consider the Flash Profile as an alternative.

Described as a “fast” method, the Flash Profile was introduced  by Dairou & Sieffermann[1] in 2002 and was derived from the Free Choice Profiling. The specificity of the Flash Profile is based on a ranking of evaluated products according to each of the sensory descriptors characterized individually in a previous phase.

Users of this procedure can achieve shorter training time of panelists and thus decrease the costs inherent in setting up a mainstream sensory profile. Although discrimination of products is often more precise using a mainstream sensory profile, both methodologies (sensory profile and Flash Profile) usually produce comparable results in terms of product positioning and descriptor correlation. Moreover, the Flash Profile is great for taking into account the inter-individual differences.

This profile involves the combination of a panel of approximately ten subjects partially trained on sensory description with the analysis of your Flash Profile data using Generalized Procrustes Analysis (GPA); the aim is to take into account the diversity of individually selected descriptors. A map of your product space is then obtained which enables you to interpret your results.

Recently, one of our clients needed to compare 7 different wines (including one control wine). They had very little time to make a marketing decision based on this comparison and thus could not carry out a mainstream sensory profile analysis. It turned out that their best option to achieve exhaustive product positioning in a relatively short time frame was to carry out a Flash Profile analysis! We recruited 14 wine connoisseurs (oenology students, seasoned oenophiles who regularly participated in tastings, oenology professors or oenology scientists…) and carried out a Flash Profile session in individual tasting cabins in standardized light and temperature conditions. During the test, all wines were served as anonymous samples in black (INAO) glasses at room temperature (20-21 °C or 61-70 °F).

After analyzing the data using GPA and obtaining a histogram of eigenvalues, we were able to determine that axes 3 and 4 should be included in the analysis. We then analyzed the data displayed on the first four axes and containing almost 90% of information. Based on the charts representing plane 1-2 and plane 3-4 of products, we were able to identify wines that were specific in comparison with others that were relatively similar from a sensory standpoint. For example, the control wine was identified as an intermediary between a wine characterized by a fruity flavor and another characterized by bitterness.

Below is a description of how the main steps of a Flash Profile analysis is carried out at SensoStat:
1- Together, we discuss your issues and objectives to ensure the Flash Profile is the method that best meets your needs.
2- If needed, we provide advice on the choice of products to select for evaluation.
3- We recruit the panelists, introduce them to sensory analysis and train them on the methodology.
4- We set up the study according to the protocol that we discussed and laid out together beforehand.
5- We process your data and send you a report with the results and recommendations derived from them.

If you’d like to set up a Flash Profile of your products and still have questions about this method, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be glad to answer your questions! In the meantime, we will see you soon with another “Focus on…”! ?

[1] Dairou, V., & Sieffermann, J.-M. (2002). A Comparison of 14 Jams Characterized by Conventional Profile and a Quick Original Method, the Flash Profile. Journal of Food Science, 67, 826-834.