meet daniel.
sensory scientist.


Daniel Antunes is a Scientist based in Curitiba, Brazil. He originally joined us in the winter of 2015 and he now works on powdered beverages like Tang, as well as on local brands such as Clight and Fresh. Here he discusses the different ways in which we evaluate our products, and the aspect of his job that fascinates him most.

A love for sensory analysis

I’ve been interested in sensory analysis for a long time. I studied food engineering at university, and all throughout my course I knew I wanted to use the human senses to analyze products.

After graduating university I spent a year in the cosmetics industry. The methodologies for sensory analysis are the same in the cosmetics industry as they are in the food industry. It’s just that in one industry you’re putting the products on your skin while in the other you’re putting them in your mouth.

It was a great experience and it gave me the perfect grounding in terms of how sensory analysis works. Ultimately though, I had always wanted to work in the food industry, so as soon as I got the chance to work at Mondelēz International, I jumped at it. Especially as it meant working with products I already loved!

Talking to consumers

Most of my job involves talking to consumers. Whether we’re chatting with people as they pass by on the street or listening from behind a mirror to a focus group, my aim is to find out what consumers like about our products, what they don’t like and how they think we could improve them.

I also want to understand who my consumers are and what they do on a daily basis. Their activities, their habits, when they consume our products and how. The more I know about them and the situations in which they enjoy our products, the more I’m able to help create products they love.

Acting on consumer feedback

Consumers say all sorts of things. They might say they wish the product were a different color. Or that it were sweeter. Or more acidic. We can’t act on all their recommendations, but if there’s a consensus within a group about certain ideas, more often than not we’ll try them out. We’ll use their feedback to develop different formulas for the product, and then see which ones consumers like best. In that way, the things consumers tell us, lead directly to the products we create.

Running tasting sessions

Whenever we’re developing a product, we run what we call tasting sessions pretty much every day. The main salesperson for the product will be there occasionally, along with the Research & Development product guide. Our job is to evaluate any changes we’ve made to the product.

If we’ve changed the flavor, for instance, or the texture, we ask: has this improved the product or not? If the answer is yes, we keep the change, and if it’s no, we don’t.

Again, this is something we do all the time. Once the product is ready for consumers, we’ll then test it at a focus group.

Working with trained tasters

We also work with trained tasters to assess our products. We train them to evaluate lots of different attributes. They’re kind of like professional wine tasters, except in our case, they’re drinking powdered beverages that come in fruity flavors. And their job is to identify stuff like orange peel and the seeds of particular fruits and that sort of thing.

Sharing knowledge around the world

My work mainly focuses on Brazil and Argentina, but I still share my findings and knowledge with teams in other regions as well. That way, we can learn from each other. If I’ve made a mistake, I want to make sure our team in China doesn’t make the same mistake. Or if someone in the Philippines has come up with a great new solution, I want to be able to adopt it.

What works in one country doesn’t always work in another country. But sometimes it does. And the fact that it does means we can build on each other’s work, rather than always starting from scratch.

Why my job is fascinating

There are so many great things about my role, but I think what fascinates me most is hearing from our consumers. I love getting to understand how they think and why they choose one product over another product when they go to the supermarket. It makes my work more interesting. And because I know what drives them and their decisions, it affects how I do my job. It means I never lose sight of the fact that the reason we’re here is to spread delicious moments of joy.