Consumer testing centre reopens for food and drink sector

CampdenBRI Leamington Spa facility

Campden BRI’s consumer research and testing centre in Leamington Spa has re-opened following the introduction of social distancing and safety measures to guard against COVID-19. The centre, which undertakes thousands of food, drink and household product tests for major supermarkets and manufacturers each year, closed its doors in March when lockdown measures were put in place across the UK.

Head of consumer and sensory science for the Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire-headquartered company, Peter Burgess, said: “As you would expect, a great deal of new product development came to a halt at the start of the COVID-19 crisis due to the changed priorities for the industry, and it was impossible to bring hundreds of consumers into the test centre due to the lockdown. Client requests did pick up though, and we have been helping the sector with remote testing and online panels while the centre has been closed. Now, as the industry begins to slowly return to something like normal and with a range of social distancing and safety measures in place, we have been able to reopen our testing centre for consumer testing and research.”

Prior to the pandemic, the centre was able to undertake a diverse range of tests each day, with products spanning all areas of food and beverages, as well as baby food, pet food and household items such as cleaning products.

Peter added: “The current rules mean that we’ll need to run tests in shifts in order observe social distancing and we’re also employing a ‘click and collect’ service so that consumers can take products home and provide their feedback online. With many companies holding back their NPD over the past few months and product testing coming through for Christmas we’re back in a position in which we can offer a comprehensive consumer testing service to the industry.”

Campden BRI is a membership organisation with more than 2,500 member companies from 80 countries, including all of the top 10 UK retailers, the top 15 global food and drink manufacturers and many of the world’s biggest brands. It provides technical, legislative and scientific support and research to the food and drinks industry worldwide – with a comprehensive “farm to fork” range of services covering agri-food production, analysis and testing, processing and manufacturing, safety, training and technical information services. Members and clients benefit from industry-leading facilities for analysis, product and process development, and sensory and consumer studies, which include a specialist brewing and wine division.