The company said that this month's launch of its Qpearl Release flavour range, which comes in three chew-duration variations, will create new possibilities for manufacturers seeking to tap new innovations such as late-release flavours. In fact, the firm claims that the new flavour range is the first to be able to extend and control flavour release in numerous ways, allowing for example one or more quick flavour bursts as well as postponed and prolonged flavour delivery. "Within our research programme, we have developed ways to precisely control the timing of flavour release upon different release triggers typically encountered during chewing gum consumption, by changing the material properties of the flavour encapsulating matrix," said Fabio Campanile, R&D head for flavour delivery technology at Quest. "The result is not only highly stable flavours, that avoid flavour degradation for more than two years, but also highly controllable flavour release, ranging from 10 to 200 seconds of chewing, a characteristic unique to Qpearl Release flavours." Chewing gum remains one of the most innovative and lucrative segments of the confectionery market. According to market researchers Leatherhead International, the global gum industry was worth over 10.9bn in 2005, with sugar-free continuing to be a major driving force. Furthermore, techniques such as the encapsulation of sensitive ingredients continue to generate interest and research, as gum manufacturers look to tap this growing market. This desire to tap changing consumer trends and tastes is primarily responsible for driving innovation in the microencapsulation market, says market analyst Frost & Sullivan. Qpearl flavour delivery technology is based on the firm's patented encapsulation system, which was first applied in powder beverages and teas. The technology is built on a flavour-encapsulating matrix that blocks de-stabilising oxygen molecules from entering and prevents flavour from fading. The Qpearl brand has grown and diversified to represent Quest's entire suite of stable flavour delivery products. "In the case of chewing gum, you often sense a concentrated burst of flavour at the start and then the brain gets used to the degree of flavour and does not perceive it to be so strong," said Quest senior product manager, Ernst van den Berg. "With Qpearl Release flavours, however, we can control the flavour impact so that you get a second or a third burst of flavour as the chewing process continues, reawakening the intense sensation. "In fact, we can combine any sequence of shorter and longer flavour releases, creating a whole repertoire of flavour sensations in a single piece of gum." The company claims that its Qpearl Release flavours are suitable for both sugar-based and sugar-free gums, and are also label-friendly, non-GMO and can be made with no allergens. "Another exciting breakthrough is our ability to 'layer' completely different flavours in a single gum, releasing them at different stages as you chew," said Campanile. "Previously, you could only blend flavours, like cherry and orange, and taste them at the same time - never in sequence, as separate waves of flavour, which we have managed to achieve thanks to Qpearl."