Nicky Coucke, University Ghent
“After waiting four years since the last Eurosense conference was organized on location, it was finally time again for all sensory and consumer researchers to come together in Turku, Finland for the 10th biennially Eurosense conference organized from September 13th till September 16th. The theme of this year’s Eurosense conference was ‘A sense of earth’. Already in the vibrant opening presentation, given by Mari Sandell and Terhi Pohjanheimo, it became clear that the conference was focused on research that takes all senses into account looked from a global perspective.
This trickled down into a common angle taken by most keynote speakers, and other presenters: the sustainability of (food) consumption. During the different days, the importance of a more sustainable food production process and consumption pattern was highlighted, which demonstrates the relevance of this conference as this theme is placed high on the societal agenda. The conference program offered plenty of variation and gave a chance to both academic as non-academic partners to have a stage to share their knowledge on sensory science. There was also a possibility to follow different workshops, organized by different companies, where every participant had a chance to discover hands on the possibilities of different types of software aimed to get a better understanding of sensory research. For example, artificial intelligence applications, understanding how multi-sensory experiences effect consumer decision making, web applications for sensory research, etc. The keynote presentations also were very well suited in the entire conference theme and showed a wide variety of relevant topics. There were talks about ways of promoting novel food protein alternatives, the future of food technology was discussed and new techniques to study sensory evaluation were tackled. All these topics had their added value. There even was a head chef speaking about his experiences with food and the evolution he experienced when preparing food in a professional dining context. This was a refreshing addition to the academic talks.
During the conference there was time for a wide variety of different types of presentations given by researchers. The paper presentations were organized in two parallel sessions which gave the opportunity for speakers to present their research in front of a large crowd. Many types of research, both qualitative and quantitative were discussed. There was a good mixture of research performed in different cultures, which is important as sensory can differ amongst cultures. Most research discussed sensory aspects of food and beverage related topics, but in addition there was room in the program for a line of very interesting research focusing on non-food related topics, such as new innovative ways of measuring a person’s affective response towards product sounds, the impact of background music on online shopping behavior or new virtual reality applications.
The conference organizers made it possible for junior researchers, researchers with less than five years’ experience, to take part in an Early Career Research seminar where they had the opportunity to present their work during a full presentation. Finally, there was a possibility for researchers to take part in a flash presentation session that gave an opportunity to a lot of researchers to briefly present their work. At the end of the second and third day, researchers had their chance to present a research poster which was organized while every participant had a chance to taste and enjoy a wide range of delicious appetizers that excited all senses. The program permitted for sufficient networking opportunities in a very relaxed setting, where researchers could take place throughout different areas in the large Logomo Convention Centre to find fellow researchers to connect with.
All I can say is that it was a very enriching experience, and I am looking forward to the next Eurosense conference 2024 in Dublin!”