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Posted: March 6, 2007

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“Vanilla is becoming more interesting on the savory side,” says Johnston. “Usually, when we think of savory foods, or foods that are salt or protein-oriented, we think of spices and herbs—beef broth, chicken broth and so forth. But as we move into this fusion among ethnic cuisines, vanilla is going to play a role there. I think we’re going to see more and more vanilla used to nuance savory-type foods.” Robert Sloane, Givaudan’s global vanilla product manager, points out that his company has “taken a look at vanilla in practically all aspects of savory, from sauces on meats to rubs.”

Natural/Organic Flavors

Johnston sees the trend towards natural as a global phenomenon, a major boon for vanilla. The persistent downside, though, in flavors and fragrances, is that, “People have different definitions of what natural is. It’s still being debated.” But while there may remain industry and consumer confusion over what “natural” really means, demand is strong. Sloane has observed that, “Consumers [are moving] toward a more health conscious choice in buying foods. They select naturally flavored products, so a customer [company] may find that its label falls short of its customers’ expectations. They’ll ask us to create a natural version of an artificial flavor.” And with Wal-Mart’s recent push toward “green,” Sloane continues, “Organic is just taking off.” In response, Givaudan has worked to offer its customers (no doubt eager to heed the retail giant’s call) organic-suitable vanillas and flavors. Says Sloane, “That’s one trend we see as sticking around for quite a while.”