3 August 2011

Wine lovers already appreciate the differences that occur between brands, grape varieties variety and regions and now a world-first project is taking this concept and trying to unlock the signature flavours for some of Australia’s most iconic seafood.

South Australian (SA) seafood industry has teamed up with a group of Brisbane-based food scientists from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at The University of Queensland to pinpoint and describe what makes the region’s premium seafood taste so unique in an attempt to educate consumers and chefs alike.

Australian seafood comes in over 800 unique species from a large range of regions. This new project will define and describe the tastes and develop a flavour and sensory language for consumers in the form of a world-first seafood flavour wheel.

The project will initially focus on seafood caught and grown in South Australia’s pristine waters. Early sensory research to mark the main contenders in a final seafood flavour wheel will be carried out at the Queensland Governments Health and Food Sciences Precinct at Coopers Plains in southern Brisbane.

Project leader and QAAFI scientist, Dr Heather Smyth said that ultimately the industry and scientists, who will be guided by panels of taste testers, aim to develop flavour descriptors that tantalise the tastebuds.

“SA oysters, for example, could end up being described as: ‘having a bouquet like a fresh ocean breeze, tastes salty, sweet and creamy, with a plump, springy texture, and a tart finish’,” Dr Smyth said.

“The SA seafood industry’s goal is to gather information that will be used to develop a ‘flavour wheel’ for marketing their regional seafood around the globe.

“It is the striking flavour and texture of around 15 important seafood species from SA’s Eyre Peninsular that will be defined as a new ‘sensory’ language and packaged as a seafood flavour wheel.

“We expect the research will help raise the profile of the seafood from the Eyre Peninsular and be used to differentiate their product from that of other seafood regions.”

Coffin Bay oyster farmer, Lester Marshall, is looking forward to the project’s outcomes and said: “Educating the customer on flavour has a demonstrated track record in the wine industry where regional differences of flavour are well known and sought after by discerning consumers in both Australia and abroad. Wine customers are familiar with descriptions of wine flavour and understand that wines from different parts of the world taste different.”

The seafood flavours project will commence in August 2011 and is expected to produce a commercial product around Christmas 2012.

The project brings together the Eyre Peninsular Regional Development Board and The University of Queensland Institute - the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) which was recently established in partnership with the Queensland Department of Employment Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI). Funding is supported by funding from the FRDC on behalf of the Australian Government.

High resolution photos of Dr Smyth and Mr John Mayze, Principal Technician at DEEDI, who is also working on the seafood flavor wheel, are available for download here.

Media contact: Julie Lloyd, QAAFI Communications Manager, 0415 799 890.

QAAFI background
Launched on 21 October, 2010, the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is an Institute of The University of Queensland (UQ) and was formed through and alliance between UQ and the Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI). QAAFI draws together 100 research teams specialising in plant, animal and food sciences from 12 UQ and DEEDI sites across Queensland.

The QAAFI Vision is to be a world leader in tropical and subtropical agricultural and food research and development. QAAFI will ensure that cutting-edge science and science education is applied to support sustainable tropical and subtropical agriculture and food production.