Do you love to try new foods or are you a foodie with some amazing taste buds? You can put your taste buds to work and earn extra money by becoming a food tester (i.e., sensory panelist). Lots of food manufacturers and research companies need consumers to try out their products before they are stocked on store shelves.
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Sometimes, the work requires that you show up on-site and be a part of a focus group or consumer panel. In many cases, however, you might complete your work online as part of a consumer survey or online forum. Thus, even if you can’t always be physically present at a test facility, you can still make money from home as a food taster.
Food testing companies and laboratories
There are many companies that perform food testing and research for big-name clients like Dole, PepsiCo, Tyson, Nestle, Kraft Foods, etc. These companies often hire food testers for consumer panels and studies that take place throughout the year. Here is a list of some companies you can periodically check in with about food testing opportunities:
Contract Testing, Inc.
This company has offices in Ontario and Georgia and is always recruiting food tasters on its website’s database. Eligible participants are most often called in to work at one of the company’s field sites; however, some products can be taken and tried out at home. Surveys are conducted by computer.
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
The Consumer Product Testing Centre, located in Alberta, Canada, periodically recruits food testers through the following web page. Participants can try a variety of food products including pasta, yogurt, chocolate and cookies. An honorarium of $15 is paid for every completed study.
This Minneapolis/St. Paul-based company recruits both adults and children to its consumer database.
This company strives to “re-invent cream cheese” by researching novel dips, spreads, sauces, etc. Those interested in joining the company’s consumer panel can sign up online.
This market research firm periodically recruits food testers in the Indianapolis, IN and Tampa, FL areas. Interested participants should leave their name and contact information in Herron’s database. Herron will then contact those participants whose specifications match study criteria to join its on-site consumer panels.
Leatherhead Food Research
Leatherhead not only conducts food tasting studies, but also performs consumer analysis and food nutrition studies. This means that panelists who sign up with the site might be asked to undergo fasting, for example, during a study on appetite and certain foods.
Participants in these consumer groups must reside in the U.K.; however, Leatherhead is also looking for home product testers based in the U.K., France and U.S. through its SenseReach program.
This international company, with locations in the U.S., China and the U.K., performs a wide range of analyses for companies like Kellogg’s, Unilever and ConAgra. Occasionally, sensory panelist and consumer focus group opportunities are listed on the MMR Careers page.
National Food Laboratory
This California-based company performs research studies on everything from food safety to packaging to visual appeal. Sensory panelist positions are occasionally offered on the NFL’s careers web page.
This company is based out of Illinois and recruits participants for its food and beverage studies through its online sign-up form.
Individual food manufacturers and restaurants will also recruit food tasters and compensate their efforts with not only money but cool schwag like T-shirts, food items and gift cards.
This company recruits consumer panelists to its Maryland office for periodic taste tests. Individuals can participate in McCormick product tastings once every three months.
Schwan Food Company
Schwan is based in Minnesota and, via its Sensory Tasting Laboratory, offers opportunities for taste testers to sample its foods, provide feedback, and be compensated for their time. Potential food testers can learn more about the program through the following web page. The company pays $15 for each completed study.
This company, based in St. Louis, develops soy-based products and recruits participants for its food tasting studies on the following web page.
Additional places that list food taster opportunities
Some food testing companies and manufacturers do not list food taster opportunities on their websites but rather on sites like SimplyHired, Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed and CareerBuilder. To find these opportunities, use search terms like “food tester,” “food taster,” “sensory panelist,” or “taste tester.”
You can also try inputting the same search terms into Google or Bing and seeing what pops up. If you’re hoping to work with a specific brand, use Boolean search and input that brand’s name into your search- for example, you could input “food tester AND Kraft” to find out if Kraft is recruiting food testers.
How much money do food taster studies pay?
Food testing focus groups often pay $60-$75/hour for participants who show up and successfully complete the study. Companies that offer online surveys pay between $1/question or $15/survey. Occasionally, companies will offer combined compensation in the form of money and gift cards or free product coupons.