Cooling flavours such as WS3 and WS23 have been the market for years. But Givaudan, which completed its acquisition of Quest International this month, claims it has developed a range that represents a definitive break with the past. "There are number of problems with traditional cooling agents," said Givaudan flavourist Sander Tondeur. "The first is that the likes of WS3 and WS23 have to be labelled as artificial. In addition, high level doses of menthol often translate into bitter notes." As senior product manager Ernst van den Berg points out, companies are increasingly concerned about using ingredients that are labelled as artificial. And this is where ImpaQ Cool comes in. "The first thing about this range is that it is natural (Natural Identical and US Natural), and food makers do not have declare the cooling agent as artificial on the label," said senior product manager van den Berg. "What is also interesting is that it offers a clean and fresh taste that avoids the off-notes associated with high doses of menthol. It also offers better mouthfeel and is longer lasting." Givaudan claims that these functionalities have been made possible through the removal of conventional menthol, which becomes bitter in large amounts. The technical breakthrough Givaudan has achieved, claimed van den Berg, is based on a better understanding of the function of 'involved receptor cells' in the mouth. "Taste receptor technology is interesting," said Tondeur. "We knew a little a bit about taste mechanisms, but now we're getting closer to revealing how the these mechanisms really work." This has enabled Givaudan to design molecules with specific functions. These molecules then can be combined to deliver the desired refreshing or cooling effect for each application. van den Berg said that the ingredient is also cheaper than menthol. Although it cannot be used as a 100 per cent replacement, it can be used to replace a percentage of menthol in various applications, thus cutting costs and improving the final taste. "Taste trials have produced very positive feedback on the freshness of milk drinks or the extra refreshing zing of citrus sorbets," said van den Berg. "We believe we have created effects that add unprecedented taste sensations to a wide range of foods." Other applications include the development of dairy drinks with a crisp, cool sensation that lasts outside the refrigerator and ice cream that retains an added burst of cooling, even when it melts. Impaq began in 1999 as a wide-ranging taste programme looking at the replacement of various ingredients. van den Berg said that the firm saw a particular opportunity within various food and drink sectors, and felt that the infrastructure was place to succeed - the company had the in-house knowledge, the taste technology and the receptor technology. The ImpaQ Cool range, which has now been patented, was launched last month. In addition, Givaudan's acquisition of Quest International was completed this after regulatory approvals were obtained in both Europe and the US. The company is confident that the deal, which was first announced on 22 November 2006 at a price of CHF 2.8 billion, will extend improve the group's position in all strategic segments of the fragrance and flavour industry. The Commission concluded that Quest and Givaudan are not the closest competitors in these markets. In addition, it ruled that the combined firm would continue to face competitive pressure from several established multinational players with significant market shares as well as many smaller competitors to which customers could switch in the event of price increases.