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The Flavorist's View: the Economy’s Impact on Consolidation, Unique Formulation, New Raw Materials and Training

By: John Wright, flavorist and author
Posted: January 16, 2009

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This type of research could obviously put a successful company in a commanding position to win high-volume, cost-driven projects. The same approach could also be used to discover more stable alternatives to many interesting ingredients whose use is currently limited by application or storage considerations. It could also help mitigate the environmental impact of the fragrance business by discovering stronger, more biodegradable alternatives to some of the high-volume chemicals.

Sensory science has much to offer and is currently occupied, for the most part, in little more than validating basic research or in relatively simplistic evaluation of new flavors and fragrances. There are many, much more interesting areas that would benefit from sensory research. I think we can expect some progress during the next decade in areas such as the various preferences “hard wired” during childhood.

Training, or rather the lack of it has been the Achilles heel of our industry for many years. For many companies it is seen as an optional luxury and the first budget to trim in hard times. Most new recruits to our industry are only trained sporadically and find it temptingly easy to retreat to the relative safety of deriving new creations from the existing repertoire. This decreases the capability spectrum of F&F companies and reduces their competitiveness.

At both ends of the cost scale consumers will continue to gradually demand more natural, characteristic products. This will generate challenges for flavorists and perfumers and it will also provide opportunities for fragrances to benefit from the work done in flavors. It is never easy in any company, where flavors and fragrances are usually two separate profit accountable worlds, to encourage open sharing of ideas. Training in general, including cross-training of perfumers and flavorists, is a large part of the answer. An industry-wide training program is the most practical solution.

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