Quest develops 'flexible' approach to snack flavours

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flavor, Taste, Olfaction

Quest has developed what it calls its '3-D approach' to snack
flavour development in order to offer customers greater flexibility
and identify key trends earlier.

"We've developed what we call our 3-D approach, which combines flavour expertise, knowledge and marketing,"​ Jolanda van Haarlem, Western Europe sales and marketing director for Quest's Savoury Group told FoodNavigator.

"It's not enough anymore just to provide one of these."

Indeed, the snack market has developed into a highly sophisticated sector of the food industry. 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.

Snacks, and above all premium snacks, are increasingly an important segment of this market.

van Haarlem claims that Quest's one-stop-shop flavour solution differentiates Quest's customer approach, and that it ties in with the growing demand for flexibility.

"What has changed is that our customers expect us to understand what the consumer wants to experience. We need to be able to predict trends, and be ready."

This means having the ability to develop solutions that target all the senses. A pizza snack, for example, should look like a pizza, smell like a pizza and taste like a pizza.

"Consumers want an authentic experience,"​ said van Haarlem. "We need to combine our skills to achieve this."

Alongside this integrated approach, Quest has also developed new flavour techniques, such as double coating. This adhesion technique means that food makers can use a low-fat base on a snack product, and still get flavours to stick on it.

"You don't lose the flavour this way and you don't get sticky fingers,"​ she said.

Other new technologies include marination. Flavour is added in a dip bath before the frying process, giving better bonding and improved quality and taste.

"This has not been launched yet, and is very new,"​ said van Haarlem.

van Haarlem also claimed that Quest's approach means that the company can help food makers identify, and prepare for, key trends.

"Health is of course one of the main issues,"​ she said. "Wellbeing is a major trend.

"But at the same time though, people want pleasure. They want a premium luxury product.

"With the technology we've got, we can create a product that is good tasting and at the same time address questions of health."

Quest has developed what it calls its Snacks a la Carte range, a selection of flavours designed specifically for premium goods. van Haarlem said that the company is looking to go further here.

"People are prepared to pay for premium goods, because they are working longer hours and have a greater awareness of how they want a product to look and taste,"​ she said. "And in this movement towards pleasure, there is a growing trend of culinary influences.

"We are working to put these into snacks. The idea is capture the authenticity of cooked dishes and translate these into flavours."

A good example is Thai sweet chilli. This is now a well-known dish, but a few years ago it wasn't.

"Its 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.

Related topics: Science, Flavours and colours

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