In this exclusive interview with Viviane Vijerman, president of AROMA, she discusses AROMA's agenda to bring transparency and clear communication with customers and consumers through events such as Brussels FlavourDay and collaboration with regional and global flavor associations.
In June 2017, the flavor industry organized a first of its kind event in Brussels. Under the logo of Brussels FlavourDay, the European, Belgian and global organizations came together to exchange ideas and visions about the role of flavorings in the food of the future. With a keynote speech from one of the world’s most famous trend watchers and an interactive panel with an EU commissioner, the participants gained insights into trends to come and the role of flavorings in them. They even got the chance to engage and further explore this role during an interactive session and three ateliers.
The event was organized by EFFA (the European Flavour Association), together with AROMA (the Belgian Flavour Association) and IOFI (the International Organization of the Flavor Industry). In this last installment of exclusive Q&As with European flavor association presidents, including Jean Robello (EFFA) and Howard Smith, Jr. (IOFI), Vijverman will discuss AROMA's goals to improve communication and transparency within the flavor industry.
P&F: As president of the Belgian Flavor Association, AROMA, can you share with us the association’s goals?
VV: AROMA assembles Belgian based companies providing safe and tasty flavorings to the food industry for consumer’s pleasure. Our main goal is to provide regulatory support and to monitor regulatory changes in Belgium, to share our knowledge amongst us and to support the image and the use of flavorings. The participation in the organization of the Brussels FlavourDay with our umbrella associations is the first milestone of a long way; we are now working at a website to provide more insights on flavorings.
P&F: What are some of the critical issues you’re seeing currently in the flavor industry globally?
VV: We are facing the same global trends as those faced by our customers: foods with less sugar, less fat, less salt, enriched in fibers, more authentic, environmentally friendly and socially responsible. These were also the trends we discussed at the Brussels FlavourDay. They are all opportunities for our industry to provide ingredients which do fit into these requirements and which give pleasure to consumers.
P&F: The industry continues to be more consumer-facing than ever, what are some initiatives AROMA is taking in maintaining communication with the public?
VV: Indeed, the consumer wants more information about the product, the history and the safety of the food he/she purchases. AROMA lays down the groundwork to bring more transparency and communicate about flavorings. The first step was the co-organization of a special FlavourDay, where discussions and personal experiences in different ateliers opened the field of flavorings to the participants.
P&F: How does AROMA work with the rest of the global flavor industry?
VV: AROMA only functions on voluntary work from its membership and acts as a team whereby all members work together to achieve the same objectives. We work closely and actively with our counterpart European and global associations to reach common agreements. The Brussels FlavourDay is the proof that collaboration works!
"We are facing the same global trends as those faced by our customers: foods with less sugar, less fat, less salt, enriched in fibers, more authentic, environmentally friendly and socially responsible."
P&F: What are some key issues in Brussels that you wish to share with the global flavor community?
VV: We need to have a holistic view of the topic “flavorings:” we cannot just look individually at the different aspects: taste, consumer choice, innovation, regulatory framework, creativity, sustainability, [an increasing] population, volatility of prices of raw materials. All [of] these aspects are interconnected and need to be treated through each link of the food chain [including]: flavor producers, ingredient producers, food producers and consumers.
P&F: What does the future of flavor look like to you?
VV: Flavors are part of our personal memory and individual life experiences. They will always remain a very important driver in consumer’s choice. A global food and drink analyst from Mintel, mentioned during the Brussels FlavourDay that approximately two-thirds of European adults claim to choose food and drink products mostly based on flavor rather than other product features. Policy makers and [the] consumer market demand more balanced and convenient foods, preferably with indulgent, authentic and natural tastes.
Besides regulatory factors, circular economy and social responsibility will become more important choice criteria. It is our role to produce flavorings which fit all [of] these requirements and make the food tasty, enjoyable and delightful!