Our Process

The Sensory Service Center is a fully integrated facility ready to provide Sensory Analysis and Instrumental Analysis along with Market Testing Services and Consumer Panel Testing. Our comprehensive services are geared toward enhancing your product’s flavor and interpreting consumer opinion and preferences.

Whether you need help deciding which food analysis methods will answer your needs, market research with timely turnaround, or a lab that offers cutting edge descriptive analysis techniques, the Sensory Service Center at NC State University will make the process of improving or introducing a product easy and supportive.

Initial Consultation

To figure out what kind of testing you need, you can either come in and meet with us in person (and take a tour of our facilities if you’d like), or we can collaborate online or over the phone. This initial consultation (usually about an hour) is free of charge. During our initial consultation, we will work with you to identify the most appropriate food or packaging test to satisfy your needs. We offer a full range of services including, but not limited to, sensory flavor and texture analysis, headspace analysis, and consumer panel testing to help you solve problems of flavor and quality significance. We provide you with a written bid describing recommended tests, costs, and timelines. Just tell us when you want to get started and we will get your project scheduled. Typical lead time to get testing started is, on average, approximately one to three weeks.

In-Lab Testing

For in-lab tests, all you’ll need to do is send us your sample with descriptions. We are able to receive large shipments at our loading dock and store large scale refrigerated or frozen products for both in-lab and consumer tests. Average turnaround time for in-lab tests is 1-2 weeks, and we deliver results electronically.

On-Site Consumer Testing

Once we have established with you the test design and products to be included, we can receive and inventory your products and incentives. We will perform test cooking and/or preparation and begin panel recruitment. Testing occurs in our research kitchen which is equipped with seven tasting booths (a further 4 stations are available on an ad hoc basis), each with computerized data entry. Upon test completion, we deliver top line reports within 24 hours, with full reports following  1-2 weeks later.

For off-site consumer testing, we can secure larger university facilities, as well as hire temp workers for large volume. We can receive your product and transport off-site as needed; set up and tear down services will be included.


Surveys are executed online. Once we settle on survey objectives together, we can launch surveys to the database for quick fulfillment. We are also equipped to handle image development of your products to include in the surveys.


You will be billed by the university upon delivery of reports. Though we cannot accept credit card payments, feel free to contact us to talk about different payment options, including volume discounting and grant-funded payments.

Benefits of working with NCSU’s Sensory Service Center:

  • Sensory + Instrumental testing in one place
  • Cutting edge testing and research methods
  • Efficiency
  • Confidential, your results belong to you
  • 48-hour topline report turnaround
  • Professionally maintained consumer database
  • Fully equipped facilities plus additional Pilot Lab