The supplier of flavour ingredients is opening a new beverage applications centre at its UK headquarters in Bury St.Edmunds, which includes a sensory and brewing centre.
An appetite for something new
Treatt develops flavours from a number of different types of beverages, from juice and carbonated soft drinks through to alcohol and craft beers.
Daemmon Reeve, Group CEO of Treatt told BeverageDaily.com innovation in the beverage industry is good news not just for brands and consumers, but the associated industries as well.
“What excites us about beverages on mass is the amount of innovation across the whole spectrum,” he said. “If the average consumer looks on the shelf, it’s markedly different in the beverage aisle three or four years ago.
“That clearly brings companies like Treatt opportunities.”
Asked what he considers is driving innovation in the beverage sector, Reeve said, “I think it’s consumers’ appetite for something new.
“Certainly health trends have also made a difference – there’s a lot in the health and wellness sphere for calorie reduced beverages, products that still impart the taste sensation of sugar but without the calories and carbohydrates.”
The new beverage applications centre will allow Treatt and its customers to explore new flavour combinations, formulate blends, run taste trials, and look at different beverage applications.
The tasting facility is designed as a neutral environment - with odour, temperature and lighting kept constant - to ensure reproducibility.
“If you stepped inside the tasting area, you may not find it immediately exciting,” said Reeve. “It’s neutral in colour, because that can influence the taste panel, and different colours stimulate different thought processes.
“We want all the variables to be taken out. The focus is on the flavour and the sensation.”
Innovation may be exciting for the beverage sector, but it’s also a challenge. As more and more products enter the marketplace, brands need something to differentiate their products from competitors.
“If you look at craft beer, there’s huge innovation here and the marketplace is growing rapidly - but it’s also very competitive,” said Reeve.
“Breweries are looking for a point of difference - a different angle in the market place.”
Part of the challenge for a flavours supplier is to stay ahead of the game, and anticipate what flavours might be popular in the future.
Reeve suggests the UK will see an influx of pumpkin flavours - a reflection of the US market.
“There’s increasing US influence on the UK market,” he said. “Anything happening in craft beer in America is increasing in the UK, and now there are a number of US breweries jointly making beer with UK breweries.”
Flavours - what’s next?
Beverage flavours have traditionally centred around a tangible, recognisable flavour - red berries, orange, chocolate, for example. But one growing area is the idea of flavouring concepts (as opposed to distinct tangible flavours).
As an example, Treatt has been working on ‘Grandma’s Garden’ – a blend of fresh traditional herbs and berries, evocative of summer.
“This is a growing trend,” said Reeve. “It underlines the competitive nature of the market space. Often single varietals are no longer sufficient to get consumers’ interest.
“They’re looking for flavour combinations or something reminiscent of happy times. Our customers’ marketing teams are coming up with interesting challenges for us – and our team enjoys learning, being stretched.”