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Flavourings legislation: getting it right.

THE world market for flavourings and fragrances is currently estimated to be worth in the region of |pounds~5000m., with the UK alone selling 50,000 tonnes of flavourings each year.

The structure of the British food industry is characterised by a handful of companies accounting for around 80 percent of the UK flavours market, with the remaining 20 percent comprising a large number of smaller companies, who primarily market flavours rather than manufacture them.

The growth of the flavourings industry to a large extent depends on its ability to innovate and meet current food trends. However, with impending flavourings legislation, there are now new pressures on the industry, as many UK flavouring companies begin to assess just how they comply.

EEC Legislation

The main areas covered in the new EEC legislation are: defining the categories of flavourings to be controlled; setting out a general purity criteria for flavouring; laying down limits for undesirable substances which are present in some flavourings and need to be restricted; prohibiting the sale or importation of food which contains flavourings that are not permitted; and establishing clear labelling requirements for the business sales of flavourings.

The food ingredient's industry has now had two years to get it right. First adopted in June 1991, it is likely that companies will have a further period until spring 1993, when the directive is anticipated to become British law, to comply. And once this has been achieved, there will inevitably be knock-on effects for both processors and retailers, who will be asked to supply more detailed and fuller flavourings' information on labels.

Although there are already moves in this direction, particularly with areas like 'reduced' and 'low fat' label declarations, in three to four years time, processors and retailers will find themselves legally bound to comply.

Set against this current climate, which imposes new demands on the industry, the major flavour-houses are now virtually all on-line with the legislation. It is the smaller ones, however, who are perhaps finding it a little more difficult, with consequences for both packaging and pricing under the new EEC directive. Food, which once carried 'natural' on its labelling -- a description which may no longer hold up under closer scrutiny -- now has to declare its true 'make-up'.

Industry Demands

Coupled with the need to accommodate new legislation, flavour-houses are also moving to meet changing requirements of today's food industry where processors are increasingly demanding customised products for a truly competitive edge.

The UK looks set to follow trends in the US where food processors are asking flavour-houses to meet very specific requirements, such as colour and fat content of foods. The emphasis is now on customised flavours -- a characteristic of the market which is expected to grow from 35 percent in the early 1990's, to a staggering 65 percent in 1995.

If flavourings are in mainline production, processors now want to develop them further to produce a product which is both distinctive and different. Only when this happens can they demand a premium price from retailers for a flavouring which gives them a vital edge over their competitors. Today, the food processor is increasingly relying on the ability of flavour-houses to provide those ingredients which allow new product concepts to become successfully formulated products.

Consumer Needs

In addition to processors' needs, as consumers become increasingly knowledgeable about food and, in particular, the pros and cons of 'natural' versus 'unnatural', label declarations are becoming more important to the end-user or purchaser.

HVPs, MSGs and 'E' numbers are now terms with which the consumer is increasingly familiar. And moves towards healthier lifestyles and more sophisticated requirements mean that consumers are wanting food products which contain natural flavourings -- a development which flavour-houses, processors and, in turn, retailers must now meet.

For RHM Ingredients the move into the flavourings market in the late 1980's was a natural one, based on years of experience and tradition in the food ingredient industry. Although new to flavourings as a manufacturer, it was in fact well versed in the needs of the food processor and key developments in the sector.

In line with the demands of manufacturers, RHM Ingredients introduced its range of Quintessence seafood and meat flavourings, one of the first additive-free seafood and meat flavourings to be launched in the UK. And following their success, the company has just introduced Quintessence cheese flavourings to offer four distinctive cheese profiles -- Cheddar, Parmesan, Blue and Cream -- as well as a range of vegetarian alternatives.

Quintessence

The Quintessence range uses entirely natural flavourings, containing no HVPs or MSGs, with each promising the authentic taste and aroma of the home-cooked base product. For the processor, it offers a flavouring product which clearly falls in line with consumer trends for a healthier product. Processors can use Quintessence ranges either as building blocks in their own flavour design or already blended into RHM Ingredients' own range of authentic seasonings and sauces. In addition to these products, the company also offers a bespoke facility in line with processors' specific demands for customised products.

CWS Ltd uses RHM Ingredients' Quintessence meat in one of its ambient ready meals. The company wanted a natural, MSG-free flavouring which would work well in processing and retain its original flavour profile.

Looking to the future, the continued growth of the flavouring industry has to lie in its ability to accommodate the new legislation and comply with its demands, while continuing to innovate with new products. The focus through the 1990's and beyond, will definitely be on food labelling and declarations, with inevitable implications for the processor and retailer.

However, as customers continue to ask for a choice of 'healthy' quality products, the outlook for the flavours industry is a positive one, as it moves to meet these changing requirements and anticipates future needs.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Doyle, Suzanne
Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Words:962
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