How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Cereal Product Texture Measurement and Analysis

Eating a bowl of cereal The need for convenience has been propelling the processed food industry, which includes breakfast cereals. 

Developed nations already have breakfast cereals as part of their regular course of meals, while increasing income in developing countries is giving the industry a new dimension. However, the market in developed economies tends to saturate mainly due to the desire for other traditional breakfasts, as well as some on-the-go alternatives such as cereal bars.

This is partly compensated for with growing breakfast cereals markets in Asia, as well as some Latin American countries. Some markets such as China and India offer high growth potential due to their large population; people in these countries are changing food habits and including breakfast cereals in their regular meals. 

Breakfast cereals are broadly marketed under two segments: RTE (ready-to-eat) cereals and Hot cereals – the market for RTE cereals is much larger when compared to that for Hot breakfast cereals.

Special emphasis on healthy living has prompted market players to introduce new products, which suit all age groups and lifestyles. International players in breakfast cereals market are also focusing on reformulating their products by replacing harmful hydrogenated fat and oils with healthier ingredients such as fiber and fruits. Demand for gluten-free cereals has increased in the market, especially in North America and Europe. There also has been an increase in demand for whole-grain cereals worldwide.

Texture analysis is a key part of product development in this sector. Crispness and bowl life in particular are vital to consumer acceptance.

Typical measurements include: crispness/fracturability/brittleness (or loss of) of dry cereal products: e.g. breakfast cereals, cereal bars, extrudates, seed coats, popcorn; compressive strength/hardness/firmness (increase/decrease): e.g. grains, breakfast cereals, extrudates, cereal bars, oats, rice; toughness: e.g. kernels; elasticity (modulus): e.g. kernels, cereal endosperm; stress relaxation behaviour: e.g. kernels; yield strength: e.g. kernels; consistency: e.g. porridge, baby food, rice pudding; rupture force: e.g. kernels; breaking strength (due to shear): e.g. extradites; stickiness/adhesiveness: e.g. couscous, oatmeal, starches, rice; tenderness: e.g. cereal flakes; bowl life: e.g. breakfast cereals; and gel strength: e.g. starch gels.

It has become clear in recent years that the sounds made by food products during consumption are a very important attribute in consumer enjoyment. In response to requests from both academic and commercial research departments, Stable Micro Systems have developed and refined a method of measuring the acoustic energy released during a physical test. Acoustic emission in the audible range up to 12kHz is measured and transformed into an analogue voltage that represents the amount of acoustic energy released from the product as a function of time. Detailed analysis and research have allowed the design of an Acoustic Envelope Detector that has high sensitivity to the frequencies emitted by such crispy or crunchy products, but low sensitivity to any mechanical noise emitted by the Texture Analyser.

It has been found that this combination of acoustic and mechanical techniques describes food sounds better than either technique alone. Despite much work carried out on the sounds of mastication, the use of instruments for crushing samples for acoustic analysis has proved a better technique for obtaining objective recordings.

Watch the video below to see a summary of the types of testing possibilities that are available for the measurement of cereal products.

Texture Analysis video

You can also visit our website's Cereal Product Applications page...
Acoustic testing video Download a published article on methods measuring sound of brittle products

Snack product testing solutions

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