Global demand for flavours and fragrances is forecast to grow 5.4 per cent per annum to $18.4 billion in 2004, new research suggests. According to a new report by US market research company The Freedonia Group, the deman will be driven by strong gains in the developing world regions of Latin America, Asia (excluding Japan). Particularly strong advances are forecast for China, Brazil, India and Mexico, as well as smaller markets such as Vietnam and Chile. These countries are experiencing robust growth in their food processing and consumer product manufacturing industries, bolstered by strong international investment activity. Gains in essential oils and natural extracts will outpace those of synthetic aroma chemicals. Over the past decade there has been a definite globalisation of the industry, with faster growth being registered in Asia and Latin America, the report continues. Leading manufacturers of flavours and fragrances are following key end users such as food processors and detergent producers to these regions, with especially strong expansion activity in China and Brazil. Production is increasing in less developed nations in Europe and North America, with considerable growth in Spain, Ireland and Mexico. Flavour blends will continue to be the largest product segment, aided by strong gains in developing countries, which are increasing their consumption of products, such as fast food, snacks, and soft drinks. These products generally require higher loadings of flavour chemicals compared to more basic foodstuffs. In developed markets growth is being hindered by consolidation in the food processing industry, strong downward price pressure from end users trying to maintain their share of a saturated consumer market, and strong growth in products such as "near waters," which use less flavour than the traditional carbonated drinks they are replacing. Source: The Freedonia Group.