Quest has launched a flavour prediction and design method that it claims could transform the flavour development process.
The company said that its LISA method allows it to predict consumer preferences with unprecedented detail - by region, age and gender for example - across the globe.
"The desired result, for food manufacturers, is more efficient and thorough NPD processes that, thanks to the flavours better satisfying consumer preferences, will help increase brand loyalty and market share," said Quest Flavours group vice president Cees de Jong.
"Were excited about the possibilities and the initial customer feedback has been extremely encouraging."
If this new method works as effectively as Quest claims it does, it could be of significant help to food manufacturers. Taste is a key driver in the €3.2 trillion global food industry and a greater understanding of the consumer preferences could lead to strong market advantages.
In addition, competition in the $10.4 billion global flavour and fragrance sector is rapidly increasing.
What sets the LISA (Linking flavour Ingredients and Sensory data to Acceptance) method apart, according to the firm, is the fact that it combines data on the flavour components that determine consumer liking with data on sensory attributes such as creaminess, juiciness, ripeness or sweetness and on consumer preferences.
"It is the added insight that makes it feasible to thoroughly predict and optimise local flavour preferences in various consumer groups worldwide," said Jong.
For instance, the method can predict that a male in France will prefer a juicy, slightly peel-like orange, while their counterpart in India will prefer a sweet, slightly mandarin-type orange.
Alternatively, Brazilian females between 25 to 35 who are heavy users of orange juice like juicy, green oranges. Brazilians under-16 who are heavy users of orange carbonate on the other hand prefer candy, floral, sweet oranges.
"The LISA methodology allows us to predict optimal flavour formulations for specific groups of consumers, based on quantitative research with consumers and sensory panel research," said Tom De Block, Quests consumer understanding systems manager.
"Based on a customer brief, we can use LISA to determine how the presence of different amounts of certain flavour components positively or negatively influence flavour acceptance. In other words, we can accurately predict the flavour components that drive liking and those that have the opposite effect."
Quest said that it plans to develop LISA into a database of all major global flavour icons and their preference drivers, establishing a reference source for flavour professionals. New customer briefs will be treated on a case-by-case basis.
LISA was first developed as a prototype by Quest in 2001. Originally, it was a research programme funded centrally by the pioneering scientific innovation platform of parent company ICI.
The global launch of the LISA model marks the culmination of a year of investment and growth for Quest. The investment has included new technical facilities in Asia-Pacific and the expansion of core flavour innovations, such as its ImpaQ Taste Technology and the QPEARL flavour delivery systems.
Quest, a flavours and fragrances company, is part of the ICI group. It operates in over 30 countries and employs 3,400 people.