About flavourings - introduction to flavourings

Flavourings are substances used to impart taste and/or smell to food. Food manufacturers have been using flavouring substances for many years in a wide variety of foods, from confectionery and soft drinks to cereals, cakes and yoghurts. The flavours category is a key segment of the global food and drinks ingredients industry. Global sales of flavourings are still concentrated in the developed markets of Europe and North America, however, as emerging markets begin to mature, sales are growing in places such as China and India, as consumers drive sales of processed foods in these countries.

Sweet flavours still make up about two-thirds of overall sales, with the rest of the sector made up of savoury flavours. However, taste preferences are still very regional and whilst there are flavours that are popular from market to market and region to region, such as vanilla, chocolate and orange, flavouring companies need a wide range of products to suit the many local demands.

However, as taste preferences change around the world, innovation has become a cornerstone in the success of all the major flavourings companies. Consumers have been more willing than ever to experiment with new taste profiles and developments in technology have meant that innovation in the sector is more prevalent than ever. Packaged food manufacturers are also facing pressure to make their products healthier - both from consumers more aware of a balanced diet and from regulators threatening legislation. Flavours companies are increasingly being tasked with developing ingredients that help enhance taste in low-fat or low-sodium products.

The flavourings market is dominated by a small number of large companies, with industry estimates suggesting that the leading four companies control over 70% of the market. Some of the markets largest companies include International Flavors & Fragrances, Symrise, Taksago, Givaudan and Cargill. Almost all the leading processed food sectors are customers to the flavourings industry, but certain sectors are more active users than others, and these include: dairy, baking, snack foods, prepared foods and beverages.