TROY — Students at Troy Junior High School put their taste buds to the test on Thursday, when representatives from Conagra Foods paid the school a visit with samples of newly-developed pizza products.
Participating students were each given two samples of pepperoni pizza with subtly different recipes, and were then asked to fill out a short survey on their opinions of each sample.
Emily Neu, market manager for Conagra, said that since students are so often the target market for the company’s products, it’s vital to do taste tests right at the source.
“Because we work with K12Foodservice, it’s important for us to be in a real-world environment,” Neu said. “They do influence each other. When you have kids in the cafeteria at school, and they’re with their friends, it is a more real-world picture of what’s going to happen when they go through the lunch line.”
Neu was upfront with students that their responses contributed to selections chosen for national lunchroom menus.
Clint Hufford, food services director for Troy City Schools, is delighted for students to serve as a valuable resource to local industry.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids at this age to see the impact they do have,” Hufford said. “Emily can travel all over the country, but for a company like Conagra, staying local and interviewing kids here in Troy is a huge advantage.”
Both Neu and Hufford acknowledged that the response to food products from junior high students, compared to students in earlier grades, is generally much more detailed and complex.
“This product is formulated for junior high and high school students, based on the product size,” Neu explained. “It’s a bigger portion. Also, because the formulas were so similar in this test, we needed a more discriminating palette. We’re looking at subtle differences to see if kids can pick those up, and the older kids tend to be able to verbalize that a little bit better.”
“You’ll definitely get different feedback the older kids get,” Hufford said. “As they age, you’ll see changes in thoughts and opinions. Emily is great to work with. She always throws out age groups that she’s looking to target, and it’s one of the great principles we’ve seen in working with Conagra.”
For more information on Conagra, visit www.conagrabrands.com.
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