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Live From New York: HBA Addresses Industry Trends

By: Nancy Jeffries
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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IFF Explores Culinary Trends
International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF) hosted an exploration of the culinary world on Feb. 21, 2008, in a presentation titled, Culinary Trends Influence Fragrance Creation. The event, one of a series of regularly hosted quarterly press days designed to introduce the press to IFF’s creation process, had a distinctive flavor. IFF, which works with flavors and fragrances, serving external customers as well as inspiring its own perfumers with innovative perspectives and experiences, created an olfactive journey based on connections with diverse foods and cultures.

Amanda Anastasiou, global marketing manager, IFF, with 11 years of flavors experience at the company, and Alexandra Niel-Jones, global marketing manager, IFF, whose 12 years with the company have been in flavors and fragrance, with responsibility for fragrance in fabric care, hosted the journey, noting their objective was to create scents that people love and set the trends from an olfactive and creative standpoint.

“Looking at flavors is one of the ways to provide IFF perfumers with new creative inspiration,” said Niel-Jones.They searched recipes, chef’s Web sites and cooking shows. “We searched the latest ingredients to draw inspiration, not to recreate a precise flavor,” she said, citing the example of the Szechuan pepper, “but to add some of that flavor to use as a building block in a fragrance.”

Identifying three major trend categories, Fusion, Culinary Tourism and Feel Good, the journey explored the “importance of fragrance in driving differentiation and success in a product, whether it is fine fragrance or dishwashing liquid,” said Niel-Jones. Fusion described the creation of new, unique taste experiences, with sensorial clues and blends of ingredients, including the “molecular gastronomy” that is changing the definition of cooking by combining food and science with textures, smells, scented air and a blend of art and science involving all the senses. Crediting Ferran Adria, considered the founder of molecular gastronomy, with these avant-garde creations, Anastasiou noted a dish called Trout Roe, featured at Chicago’s Alinea Restaurant, which combines freeze-dried coconut milk, pineapple air and hand-harvested trout roe. Chaos and Harmony, a sub-trend of Fusion, united such diverse flavors as saffron and vanilla, as well as herbs with chocolate. Tongue-Tied, another sub-trend of Fusion, combined innovative ingredients with multisensorial applications; for example, a beautiful scented candle with a crackling wick, or the Culture Clash element of Fusion, uniting ginger and lychee. Anastasiou suggested perfumers liked ginger’s clean, fresh scent and could imagine using it to fragrance a home cleaning product. Culinary Tourism, experiencing other cultures through food, enables perfumers to create unique and memorable experiences through scent. Regional Authenticity, which directs interest to specific regions or towns, distinguishes flavors further, citing Oaxacan mole, with its cinnamon, chocolate and chiles, or, in Ingredient Trade Ups, the cachet of a specific region or place of origin, whether Valencia lemon or Brazilian cherry. This approach has already begun in functional fragrances as well as fine fragrances.

The Feel Good trend addressed achieving and maintaining well-being from the inside out; whether in personal care, home care or elsewhere, people want to feel good about what they are eating and how they are living. The sub-trend Culinary World harkens back to simplicity, nourishing body, mind and soul, while the Home Grown sub-trend, refers to wholesome cooking, farm-to-table freshness and local ingredients. Warm and Cozy referenced familiar, indulgent flavors and gourmand notes that translate to fine fragrance, candles and body washes, while Classics Reinvented created luxurious interpretations of “low brow,” or familiar foods, like macaroni and cheese, or new translations of the cupcake, to today’s red velvets with mascarpone.