Kumar to lead sensory and consumer research

Thursday, April 20, 2023 | Written by Beth Jones


Rajesh KumarOLATHE — Rajesh Kumar, Ph.D., joins Kansas State University Olathe as the manager of the Sensory and Consumer Research Center at the campus, effective April 16.

Kumar arranges contracted research studies on consumer products with local, national and international businesses, several of which are Fortune 500 companies. He is responsible for the overall development, management and quality of these contract consumer research studies. He also develops workshop series, assists with descriptive studies and supervises the research assistant, students and part-time staff in conducting these studies.

Kumar and colleagues at the center conduct sensory testing that uncovers consumer preferences about foods and other products. Qualitative and quantitative information from these studies is provided to industry partners, who may adjust product ingredients, preparation methods or marketing to better meet consumer interests.

"I am excited to bring rich industry experience to broaden consumer research horizons by adding latest research tools such as use of artificial intelligence, listening to consumers on social media, user experience in virtual reality and sensory heighten contextual research to our kit,” Kumar said.

Kumar brings years of industry and academic experience in sensory analysis, consumer research and food processing. He worked on various food products, including snacks, confectionery, refrigerated and frozen. Additionally, he supported innovation and renovation work for various brands, including Stouffer’s and Sweet Earth Foods.

Previously, Kumar worked at the Nestlé Research and Development Center where he conducted consumer and sensory research. He also managed and conducted consumer and sensory research studies, provided guidance on the use of sensory evaluation and consumer methodologies and worked with cross-functional project teams.

Kumar earned a doctorate in sensory analysis and consumer behavior, a graduate certificate in applied statistics and a master’s in grain science and industry from Kansas State University. He also earned a bachelor’s in food technology from the University of Rajasthan in India.