Through extensive research, the company has determined the key characteristics consumers look for in orange flavours and was able to discover how taste preferences and market trends vary for citrus depending on geography, gender, age, and ethnicity. "Our research shows consumers are increasingly looking for refreshing, sophisticated citrus flavoured beverages, plus something new and different - a 'wow' factor," said Dawn Streich, citrus product manager. "Givaudan's innovation capability starts and finishes with the consumer in mind." Its new extensive portfolio of flavours can help manufacturers introduce pioneering new orange-flavoured products to the market. The flavour creation programme is part of the TasteEssentials approach, developed by the flavour and fragrances company to focus on the seven major global categories. The areas are chicken, beef, coffee, vanilla, chocolate, dairy and citrus. Between 2005 and 2008, the company concentrated on chicken, citrus and vanilla. Customer focus Flavour development always begins with market mapping for Givaudan, and the company carried out comprehensive mapping of 81 of the world's most popular still and sparkling orange drinks. Through quantitative flavour profiling the company was provided with valuable indications on the current global trends in citrus. This step is followed by consumer investigation. Givaudan developed consumer taste profiles through in-depth surveys of more than 9,000 consumers from 20 different countries, identifying differences in preferences by demographic. Streich told FoodNavigator.com: "We can help our customers to key in on a specific profile or help them to fill in 'white space' (areas where no products exist) and truly differentiate in the marketplace." Basing flavours on demographic trends has become increasingly important to food and beverage manufacturers, as they attempt to broaden their portfolios and meet niche markets. Givaudan said its findings "support information for justifying orange flavour profile recommendations by market and demographics". Streich added: "For example, the data suggests that Europeans prefer more traditional orange flavours for soft drinks, while Americans are more inclined to like a flavour which is new and different." Knowledge from the source Another key step in Givaudan's flavour development is extracting knowledge from nature. Givaudan has developed an initiative called TasteTrek, which allows its flavourists to examine first-hand the fruits, plants, pods and herbs indigenous to a region and thereby identify new ingredients, new flavour experiences and important indications that lead to the creation of new molecules. Through a partnership with the University of California, Riverside, Givaudan was granted access to more than 1,000 different citrus varieties. Using a proprietary sampling technique known as a 'headspace', the company has been able to capture the aroma of the different fruits, which scientists could analyse, study the molecular makeup and recreate the flavours for commercial use. R&D expenditure The company invests 10 per cent of its overall sales into R&D - that is, around €88.8m on 2007's figures - although it spends more on research for fragrances than for food. Givaudan claims to have 40 per cent of the world's flavourists working for it. On top of its TasteEssentials, Givaudan's R&D is broken down into five main categories. These are taste, delivery systems, fermentation, tools and ingredients.