ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to determine the best organization/training of sensory panels performing different types of work. Five sensory panels having different types of product knowledge were compared with respect to their profiling performance. Four of the panels were internal panels from various food companies and one was an external panel from a research institute. The panels were categorized in three groups according to their product knowledge: specific product knowledge (SK), unspecific product knowledge (UK) and general product knowledge (GK). Particularly, SK from quality control testing was pointed out to be more beneficial for the ability to discriminate between samples than UK or GK from descriptive analysis of a large variety of products. These findings contribute to the explanation that sensory learning evolves from verbal learning and focus of attention rather than perceptual learning. It is most beneficial for food companies with a limited range of products to have panelists that are specifically trained for certain characteristics, rather than have judges that can easily adapt to unfamiliar products and characteristics.