Roasted peanuts are a popular snack in Europe, but their drivers of liking and perceived freshness have not been previously studied with European consumers. Consumer research to date has been focused on U.S. consumers, and only on specific peanut cultivars. In this study, 26 unique samples were produced from peanuts of different types, cultivars, origins, and with different process technologies (including baking, frying, and maceration). The peanut samples were subjected to sensory (expert panel, SpectrumTM) and instrumental analysis (color, headspace volatiles, sugar profile, large deformation compression tests, and graded by size) and were hedonically rated by consumers in The Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey (n > 200 each). Preference Mapping (PREFMAP) on mean liking models revealed that the drivers of liking are similar across the three countries. Sweet taste, roasted peanut, dark roast, and sweet aromas and the color b* value were related to increased liking, and raw bean aroma and bitter taste with decreased liking. Further partial least square regression (PLSR) modeling of liking and perceived freshness against instrumental attributes showed that the color coordinates in combination with sucrose content and a select few headspace volatiles were strong predictors of both preference and perceived freshness. Finally, additional PLSR models focusing on the headspace volatiles only showed that liking and ''fresh'' attributes were correlated with the presence of several pyrroles in the volatile fraction, and inversely related to ''stale'' and to hexanal and 2-heptanone. Practical Application: This study provides insight into which flavor, taste, and appearance attributes drive liking and disliking of roasted peanuts for European consumers. The drivers are linked back to analytical attributes that can be measured instrumentally, thereby reducing the reliance on costly sensory panels. Particular emphasis is placed on color as a predictor of preference, because of the low cost of the measuring equipment, it is available to even smaller producers. In addition to preference, the study also examines whether product attributes that drive perceived freshness exist. The results can be used to design products with high acceptability across several countries within Europe.
- Consumer preference