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Symrise moves on authenticity, bringing new trends on board

By Jess Halliday , 17-Oct-2008

Symrise is putting strategic emphasis on restaurant-driven trends and home-cooked flavours, and is working on its meat, fish and vegetable flavour offerings to make them more authentic.

The German flavour firm recently announced the creation of a new position in its savoury division of principal international chef – and the appointment of renowned chef Marcus Leben to fill it.

Frans Struiwig, senior VP, strategic business unit, flavour and nutrition global, told FoodNavigator that the position is driven by a desire to strengthen the firm’s culinary skills. Although Symrise does have a team of chefs (which Leben will lead), they are more involved in the development process than in proactively seeking out trends as they start.

“We want to get consumer insight. New trends are set by restaurants, then we see them in processed foods.”

Part of Leben’s remit will be to build an outside network to understand the restaurant trends early on, and leverage these to inform development.

Home cooked meat, fish and veg

Amongst the important trends in the flavours at present is driven by consumer desire for home-cooked-like food. The explanation for this desire, Struiwig said, could be that people have less time on their hands to cook from scratch, but do not want to compromise on taste.

“We look back to home preparation and see if we can make, with our flavours, something similar to what people are expecting.”

One of the projects Leben will oversee is improvements to Symrise’s chicken and beef e existing flavour ranges.

Interestingly, two other flavour houses – IFF and Givaudan – have announced new, more authentic natural meat flavours to the market in the last two months.

“Chicken and beef are big flavours,” said Struiwig. “They form an important part of many meals. People want them to be more authentic.”

He revealed that Symrise’s savoury division is also working on its natural fish extracts, going back again to the original fish, such as haddock or cod.

Vegetables are a big area of work, too. Since Symrise acquired UK-based Steng last year, it has been working on optimising the 100 per cent natural herbs and spice pastes, stocks marinates and flavourings in industrial products.

Advantage-driven acquisitions

In addition to developing new technologies, Struiwig said that the company is “always on the lookout for new technologies” it can acquire from outside.

“It is all about where the market is going, and where we can buy an edge.”

Struiwig expects that consolidation in the competitive flavour market will continue, but that it will be advantage-driven.

“The first question is what is the market doing, then where can we buy an edge.”

Indeed, this was the rationale behind the Steng acquisition, as Symrise was keen to gain more mass in the high-potential natural market.

There is no point, in Symrise’s eyes, in acquisition just for the sake of it.

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