Research area

Sensory science

Sensory studies is the study of the senses and sensory perception. By sensory analysis we mean the way people describe a product's appearance, smell, taste, texture and sound. The analyses are carried out by persons who have been trained to recognise and characterise properties in different products.

The sensory panel

Nofima has sensory panels at Ås, in Stavanger and Tromsø.

The sensory panel at Nofima, Ås, consists of 12 sensory assessors, while the sensory panels in Stavanger and Tromsø have 6-8 sensory assessors each.

A trained panel should not assess whether or not they like the products they are presented with. They should only give an objective assessment of the products. The individual question to be addressed decides which analysis method is chosen.

What is required of a sensory assessor?

A sensory assessor must have:

  • A low threshold of taste and smell
  • The ability to detect small nuances
  • Good descriptive abilities

The panels' experience within different product groups varies. Nofima is a pioneer in sensory studies, both nationally and internationally, and have experience of this type of analysis going back to 1976. The sensory panel is one of Europe's best for analytical precision. The assessors in this particularly sensory panel have 12 years experience, on average.

The sensory laboratory at Ås has been approved by Norwegian Accreditation (Accreditation No. TEST 016) for descriptive tests and tests of differences.

Sensory perception services

We offer consultancy and analysis services, courses and advice in the following areas:

  • Analysis using Nofima Mat's well trained assessors in the sensory laboratory
  • Panel management - selecting and training panel members
  • Training of panel leaders
  • Courses in sensory studies for production executives
  • Work practice with the sensory studies team at Nofima
  • Consultancy and courses in the PanelCheck software - a programme to monitor and calibrate panel assessments
  • Consultancy services
  • Ring testing - Nofima Mat can organise comparative testing in different sensory laboratories to look at the quality of assessment capabilities

We also have process pilot plants for testing recipes and formulae and various production conditions. This is done in collaboration with some of our key technical staff.

We offer open services or we can work within a single company; we can also help in competence raising through networks.

The PanelCheck software programme is used for quality control in sensory analyses.

Nofima conducts analytical assignments using our well trained assessors in the sensory laboratory.

Our experience includes sensory analyses of fish, meat, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, snacks and confectionery, wine and non-food.

One of our sensory assessors deeply consentrated. Photo: Kjell J. Merok
Copyright: Nofima

One of our sensory assessors deeply consentrated.

The sensory panel in action.

The sensory panel in action.

Relevant news


Research area within Sensory science


The PanelCheck software (link to project) offers tests of both the performance of the entire sensory panel and also that of its individual members. We can reveal which products or which sensory properties the assessors may need further training or calibration in.

Sensory methods

It is the nature of the sensory question that decides which sensory method will be used to resolve it. Once we have received information about questions that need to be answered with the aid of sensory analyses, we will decide, in dialogue with the principal, which method would be technically correct.