Aquatic foods, increasingly recognized for their key role in food security and nutrition, have reached an all-time record of 214 million tonnes of production (EUMOFA, 2022). However, 30-35% of fish production is being wasted globally , mainly due to their perishability (FAO, 2002). There is a market demand for safe and healthy seafood products with longer shelf-life but also high sensory quality. Osmotic dehydration is a low-energy-consuming, mild treatment that has been proven to extend fish shelf-life (Tsironi et al., 2009; Alexi et al., 2020) . The current study explored the effects of mild processing for shelf-life extension of gilthead seabream fillets stored at 2°C in two markets , Greece (GR) and Denmark (DK) .
The study aims to evaluate consumer hedonic responses and associate those to the perceived sensory characteristics of the fillets from a consumer perspective to uncover country-specific hedonic drivers and barriers. Furthermore, it is being investigated whether consumers’ background characteristics, such as sociodemographic, fish consumption habits and attitudes affect liking and sensory perception.
Materials and methods
The study was conducted in GR and DK, with approximately 80 consumers per country . The samples were prepared and served under the same conditions. The fillets sampled for the consumer study were for the Control fillets D1 and D6, and for the Treated (via osmotic dehydration) fillets D1, D6 and D9 of commercial shelf life (corresponding to 1, 6 and 9 days of chilled storage, respectively) . Liking was evaluated for each sample via the 9-point hedonic scale ( anchored “Dislike extremely” to “Like extremely”, with a neutral middle point ), subsequently the consumers were asked to provide quick profiling via the Check-All-That-Apply (CATA) sensory method. Besides the hedonic and sensory responses measured, at the end of the survey the consumers were also asked about sociodemographi c as well as attitudinal and behavioural information regarding fish and shelf life . Additionally , the effect of mild processing on the fillet’s quality was determined by m icrobial enumeration including t otal v iable counts , Pseudomonas spp. and Enterobacteriaceae.
Examining the results combing the profiling via CATA and hedonic responses, the consumers in the two countries showed different hedonic drivers and barriers, which were specifically associated with sensory characteristics that they perceived on a country basis in the fish fillets. On a country level, the Greek consumers did not discriminate their hedonic responses based on the treatment but mainly on the level of freshness . On the other hand, the Danish consumers preferred the osmotically treated fillets. Besides the differential liking responses, the consumers in the two countries used different attributes to describe the sensory characteristics of the samples, especially for the Control fillets as well as Treated D9 fillets. In specific, for the Greek consumers the Control fillets were associated with m arine flavour and j uicy texture whereas for Danish ones with b itter and metallic taste; in their turn these can be perceived as positive and negative characteristics acting as hedonic drivers and barriers, respectively.
A clear hedonic driver for Greek participants is marine flavour which is perceived in the Control fillets only in Greece, whereas for the Danish participants, hedonic driver is the umami taste that is perceived mainly in the osmotically treated fillets, and only in Denmark . The observed cross-cultural differences can be associated with familiarity with the species as well as culinary traditions and fish consumption patterns and indicate a high potential for the treatment in the Danish market.
European Market Observatory for fisheries and aquaculture . (2022). The EU Fish Market.
FAO. (2022) . The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture. Sustainability in Action; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2022.
Tsironi, T., Salapa, I., Taoukis, P.S. (2009). Shelf life modelling of osmotically treated chilled gilthead seabream fillets. Innov . Food Sci.Emerg. Technol ., 10, 23–31.
Alexi N., Sfyra K., Basdeki E., Athanasopoulou E., Spanou A., Chryssolouris M., Tsironi T. (2022). Raw and Cooked Quality of Gilthead Seabream Fillets (Sparus aurata, L.) after Mild Processing via Osmotic Dehydration for Shelf Life Extension. Foods , 11, 2017