Abstract Sorbic acid is a commonly used food preservative against yeast and fungal food spoilage. Understanding its effect on the molecular physiology of yeast cells will allow the food industry to develop knowledge-based strategies to make more optimal use of its preservative action. Here we show that the yeast membrane protein Pdr12, previously shown to be prominently involved in sorbic acid resistance development in laboratory strains, was strongly induced by the presence of sorbic acid in the culture medium in Saccharomyces strains isolated from spoiled foods. Induction of Pdr12 expression was seen both under laboratory conditions and upon growth in a commercial soft drink. Induction was rapid and maintained for the duration of the stress. No Pdr12-like protein induction was seen in Zygosaccharomyces bailii or Zygosaccharomyces lentus, two well-known beverages spoilage organisms. Finally, unexpectedly, our studies showed for the first time that pre-inducing Pdr12p to maximal levels by subjecting cells to a mild sorbic acid stress did not lead to cells with an acquired resistance. Neither more rapid growth in the presence of the acid nor growth at higher sorbic acid concentrations at a given environmental pH was observed. Thus we have shown that while important in resistance development against sorbic acid, by itself induction of the pump is not sufficient to acquire resistance to the preservative.