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Flavor Q&A: Inside Citrus and Vanilla

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured, Editor
Posted: October 20, 2008, from the October 2008 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • October 2008 issue, pg. 24—3 pages
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Meanwhile, the company has conducted similar investigations into better understanding vanilla flavor profiles and ascertaining global consumer preferences for this popular flavor, via the combined efforts of the TasteEssentials program and Chefs’ Council. The effort included insights from 4,000 consumers in 20 countries regarding the top 75 vanilla ice creams. According to Scott May, global head of Givaudan’s sweet goods and dairy division, the vanilla program uncovered “how consumers in different parts of the world enjoy, think and feel about vanilla.” The company then created 500 vanilla concepts, 150 of which they tested with global consumers to identify the most winning profiles. “Seeing the consumers’ reactions to our prototypes made us realize that the universe of what is acceptable and indeed desirable for vanilla is far larger than we had previously thought,” says flavorist Dave Bratton. “Our aim was to push the boundaries of vanilla flavors.”

Recently, P&F magazine spoke with a member of each team to discuss the keys to flavor innovation in these two key categories. Senior flavorist (global flavor creation and technology) Geoff Marshall-Hill participated in Givaudan’s citrus exploration. Meanwhile, May provides an insider’s view into the company’s vanilla insights.

Questions asked:

  • Geoff, what did the company learn by mapping 81 top still and sparkling orange drinks?
  • In developing consumer taste profiles across geographic, age, gender and ethnic lines, what did Givaudan discover?
  • What did the flavorists take away from exposure to non-commercial citrus varieties?
  • Which flavor profiles struck you most?
  • What practical applications do you foresee? How does one achieve the “wow factor” consumers seek?
  • What did you take away that can add to flavor differentiation? What’s next for orange?
  • Scott, what insights did you derive from the survey of 75 top vanilla ice cream brands?
  • What did the company learn from its consumer surveys? What variations did it find around the world?
  • What does it take to achieve distinction and win consumers?
  • Please describe the process of developing the concepts that were tested with global consumers.
  • How did flavorists “push the boundaries” of vanilla flavors?

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.