Flavors and Fragrances as Functional Ingredients

The original function of flavors and fragrances was largely hedonistic. The ancient Egyptians and Romans, masters of pleasure, captured the delicate essence of a rose or an orange to luxuriate in its perfume while bathing, or to give a touch of exoticism to their sweetmeats. Times have changed. In this article I would like to trace the changes that are reshaping our industry.

Flavors and fragrances have a shared heritage, a common raw material base (natural products) and common technologies (extraction and distillation). Until recently, however, the flavor and fragrance industries were moving in different directions. Now there is a coming together, with common challenges. Now we talk about “functional ingredients,” as opposed to flavors and fragrances.

The Driving Forces of Change

To examine the major forces that have changed our industry, and to see how these have altered with time, we need to step hack into history and explore how fragrance and flavor materials have developed. As long ago as 540 BC Heraclitus observed that "There is nothing permanent, except change."

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