The new Totally Nuts range was developed especially for the European market, where recent changes in labelling laws and an increase in popularity of nut-flavoured ice-creams have prompted manufacturers to look for new flavour alternatives.
Research from Quest has shown that 28 per cent of all ice-cream launches and 20 per cent of all products launched in the fine bakery sector contain nuts, ruling out a whole range of foods for people who have an allergy to nuts.
In addition, allergen labelling regulations that came into force on 25 November require companies to label all pre-packed foods if they contain any of the 12 listed allergenic foods as an ingredient.
The mandatory inclusion on food labels of the most common food allergen ingredients and their derivatives covers cereals containing gluten, fish, crustaceans, egg, peanut, soybeans, milk and dairy products including lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seed, and sulphites.
Food companies are therefore a great deal more cautious these days. There is growing public awareness about food allergens and a recall can cost millions and irreparably damage a build-up reputation.
Quest's new nut collection contains the flavours of almond, chestnut, coconut, hazelnut, macadamia, peanut, pecan, pistachio and walnut. The flavours in the range mimic the process the nut undergoes, rather than the actual raw nut.
An example of this is the hazelnut range in which there are three different hazelnut flavours: a skin type - mimicking the skin covering the nut underneath the shell with a woody character - a fried type, which is more oily, and a paste type, which is more creamy and sweet.
"Globally, you see the same basic preferences for nut types: the main nuts used for snacking are peanuts, cashews and pistachio," said Luise Gramkov de Kort, dairy marketer from Quest.
"In Asia seeds are a popular snack. The difference between the regions lies mainly in the processing or coating; it is not unusual to see coconut- coated peanuts in South Africa or Asia, which is something that you don't find in Europe."
de Kort said that Quest has utilised its existing technical expertise as well as developing new techniques to create the range.
"We used novel analytical techniques, focusing on sulphur chemicals, together with our existing technical capabilities, to create new top-note molecules," she said.
"It is these unique molecules, together with other captive material, that has enabled us to produce the flavours of this collection."
The company says that the flavours can be used in several applications - ice-cream, milk drinks, cream fillings and cookies. Quest is now working on further developments to the range that will answer specific regional preferences.
Quest is one of the leading creative flavours and fragrances companies and is part of the ICI group. It operates in over 30 countries and employs 3,400 people.