Reading Scientific Services (RSSL) has poured "10s of 1000's of pounds" into improving its flavour chemistry and sensory analysis laboratories, including bringing in expertise to correlate instrumental and human flavour measurement techniques.
Understanding the perception of both volatile and non-volatile flavours by consumers is key to unlocking profitable food formulations for food companies.
With this in mind, research projects will combine sensory and chemical analyses to investigate how different structures, microstructures, and textures can impact flavour release and perception, says a spokesperson for the firm.
Instrumental techniques include mouth simulator devices - new to the firm under the refurbishment - to mimic saliva flow, breathing and mastication, buccal headspace analysis, used to assess the in-mouth release of volatile flavours.
Gas chromatography-olfactory (GC-O), which links sensory responses to chromatographically separated volatile flavours will also feature in the investigations.
Soft drinks, confectionery, savoury sauces, snacks and cakes are some of the key product areas covered by RSSL in the sensory analysis challenge.
UK market analysts IAL Consultants estimate that the global market for flavours and fragrances hit $11.6 billion (€8.6bn) in 2003, split almost equally between the two sectors.
Expected growth for flavours is about 3.3 per cent, with a range of influences such as health and function, driving demand in western Europe.
Beverages, with 30 per cent, witnessed the largest slice of the market in western Europe in 2003, followed by dairy and bakery with 15 per cent and 12 per cent market chunks respectively.