top of page

The latest news, trends, analysis, interviews and podcasts from the global food and beverage industry

FoodBev Media Logo
Access more as a FoodBev subscriber

Sign up to FoodBev and unlock more insights from the international food and beverage industry. Subscribers have access to webinars, newsletters, publications and more...

In review: London Flavour Day 2024
Melissa Bradshaw

Melissa Bradshaw

15 April 2024

In review: London Flavour Day 2024

The UK Flavour Association invited FoodBev to its London Flavour Day 2024 at the Wellcome Collection last week (8 April), bringing together industry experts to explore the critical role of flavour in our food and beverages.

This year’s event included a range of thought-provoking sessions on topics such as the psychology of flavour and how it impacts consumer food decisions; green chemistry and upcycling food waste; as well as other opportunities to address environmental and social challenges within the flavour industry. Debbie Calver, technical director of taste and wellbeing at Givaudan, kicked off the day as chair of the morning’s session – an exploration into flavour psychology, presented by speakers Jeff Brunstrom and Laura Wilkinson. Brunstrom, a professor of experimental psychology at the University of Bristol, offered some unique insights into the role that flavour plays in dietary choices. He highlighted various studies carried out by himself and other food psychology experts, focusing on the human ability to gauge food’s nutritional value. Brunstrom suggests that this ability has been underestimated until now, pointing to the complexity of flavour-nutrient associations and the importance of ‘nutritional intelligence’ as an innate human capability, raising questions about how social and cultural factors have impacted this concept in a rapidly changing world.

Following this, Swansea University associate professor in psychology, Laura Wilkinson, delivered a talk centred on multi-component food items and their impact on eating behaviours. She highlighted the crucial component of variety, citing her ongoing research showing how multi-component foods (single food products that bring together multiple components, often through processing) have been linked to increased perceived palatability and higher food intake. A panel Q&A discussion at the end of the morning session offered ideas about how products could be reformulated and marketed for better health and sustainability outcomes, with factors such as time of day and eating occasions highlighted as worth considering in their impact on consumer choice. During the discussion, Wilkinson underscored the significance of innovating the approach to introducing unfamiliar flavours to consumers, using seaweed as an example of a sustainable food source. She stressed the importance of diversifying and creatively formulating products with these flavours to alleviate consumer hesitance and foster repeat consumption. This, in turn, would help diminish fear and normalise the consumption of such foods. The panellists discussed how consumers are ‘primed’ to seek out flavour. “People need firm reassurance on taste,” Wilkinson pointed out, adding that companies should spend more time emphasising the taste of their products. She also raised the importance of nuance when discussing ultra-processed foods (UPFs) – a timely and somewhat divisive topic currently trending within the F&B industry. Wilkinson argued that, for example, certain fortification methods implemented to improve the nutritional profile of foods can lead to their classification as ‘ultra-processed’ within the current, widely-used NOVA system – causing consumers to doubt their health and sustainability credentials, due to their being categorised alongside many UPFs that are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. The second half of the day, focusing on sustainability, was chaired by Helen McNair, technical director at Lionel Hitchen and a member of the International Organization of the Flavour Industry (IOFI) Sustainability Working Group.

McNair provided an outline of the IFRA (International Fragrance Association UK)-IOFI Sustainability Charter, a voluntary framework for the flavour and fragrance industries. She gave an overview of the key sustainability pillars that its signatories must align their business practices with, including responsible sourcing, product safety, environmental footprint, enhanced wellbeing and supply chain transparency. The charter is based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and currently has 137 signatories within the industry. She also delivered a session on EcoVadis, which helps businesses deliver on ESG targets and manage compliance through an evidence-based ratings monitor system, discussing how it can be used as a tool to improve sustainability performance. Avtar S Matharu, professor of green chemistry at the University of York, discussed green chemistry and the opportunities that the industry can harness by utilising unavoidable food supply chain waste. In particular, he spoke about his research focusing on the potential of using citrus peel as a feedstock for bioenergy and the production of bio-based materials. James Smith, vice president and managing director at Kalsec, then took to the podium to discuss the herb and spice specialist’s journey toward gaining B-Corp certification in 2020. Smith discussed measures that Kalsec is taking to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and send zero waste to landfill by 2030, leveraging its business power as a ‘force for good’ and implementing key waste reduction strategies, including measuring, quantifying and reusing waste generated. Finally, the day’s sessions concluded with a talk from Mimie Ravaroson, sustainable development manager at Symrise, offering insight into how the company is supporting vanilla farmers in her home country of Madagascar. She covered some of the challenges and climate threats faced by farmers in Madagascar’s Sava region, including cyclones and lack of land for agriculture, and explained how Symrise is working in direct cooperation with farmers to improve their livelihood and the sustainability of vanilla production.

Janis Sinton, vice chair of the UK Flavour Association and founder director of TasteTech, said: “Sharing best practices, new ideas, research findings and skills is exactly why events such as the London Flavour Day are so beneficial for the sector. The important work by our speakers today highlights the need for ongoing research in the flavour sector and how we can adapt to the ever-changing requirements for food and the flavour industry, as we work to become as sustainable as possible.”

bottom of page