The flavour company said that this strategy, part of its '3D approach' to snack flavour formulation, is key to identifying where the next taste trend is going to come from.
This 3-D approach combines this market insight with both snack flavour creation and application knowledge, which includes process technologies such as marination and double-coating.
"Our work has demonstrated many fast-moving trends in the European snacking market that are linked directly to peoples lifestyles and meal preferences," said Jolanda van Haarlem, marketing & sales director for savoury flavours.
"It's not just the old story of focusing on flavour and aroma - snacks appeal to people in far more ways than this, depending who they are and where they are. Thats why all senses need to be considered in developing a particular new product or line extension."
The lifestyle trends identified so far by Quest include Well-being, Pleasure, Fusion, Comfort and Back-to-basics. Under the slogan 'Snacking inspired by life', Quest is now marketing its range of concepts in snack flavours across Europe.
The initial theme focus is on growing demand for snacks with a culinary influence. A collection called `Snacks a la carte includes flavours based on a South African dish of cooked vegetables combined with sweet and sour spices, and an Asian dish of lightly curried, braised mince of lamb with fresh apricot.
As part of its approach, Quest also offers customer innovation days, flavour language training and pilot plant facilities at its centre in Naarden, the Netherlands.
Its important that we work closely with customers at the concept development and market interpretation stages to plan this impression," said van Haarlem.
"In such a fast-moving market, the definition of what is a snack is expanding rapidly and excitingly into some really unusual flavour combinations."
The point of this approach therefore is to stay ahead of the competition by trying to identify key emerging taste trends as early as possible, and then working directly with customers.
The snacking and convenience foods sector has certainly become highly lucrative. According to Business Insights, the drive towards convenience will push sales of ready meals in Europe and the US at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 2.9 per cent between 2004 and 2009 to reach $32.6bn at the end of the period.
"We've worked in this market a long time, but the next few years hold unprecedented variety and challenge," said van Haarlem. "We wanted to make sure our best practice approach was formalised into a service that could really support customers in keeping up with the sheer volume of change and innovation required."
Quest, a flavours and fragrances company, is part of the ICI group. It operates in over 30 countries and employs 3,400 people.