The flavors and fragrances company intends to open its Takasago Citrus Center in spring 2008, in partnership with Peace River Citrus Products. The center will contain facilities to enhance capabilities for citrus flavor production for use in sectors such as beverages and confectionery. The citrus materials will also be used for R&D purposes, to allow for new advances in flavor development. "It is an important step for us, giving us greater consistency and quality in the development of new citrus flavor materials," said Brian Buck, vice president and general manager, of the flavor division. Takasago has food and beverage customers worldwide, for whom it wants to provide top quality citrus flavors. It said its partnership with Peace River Citrus Products, one of the leading citrus growers in Florida, reinforces Takasago's commitment to the citrus sector. It also brings the company even closer to the source of its raw materials, ensuring traceability from farm to fork. It also considers this a good way to strengthen its relationship with the growers, thereby securing steady supplies of the fruits. Takasago did not say whether there has been a specific increase in demand for citrus flavors. However a spokesperson told FoodNavigator-USA.com that it was a popular area that has sustained demand over many years, and Takasago is not alone in such a business venture. Last April, flavor and fragrance giant Symrise announced similar plans to expand its citrus activities. Like Takasago, it moved close to the source of high-quality, natural fruits with a new center located in Brazil. Clearly the two companies have identified the market for fresh citrus tasting foods as enduring. Buck said: "Our global customers are always looking for innovative citrus tastes. Using these materials in our own flavor development efforts, combined with the proprietary distillation and oil folding processes that will be employed at the Takasago Citrus Center, will allow us to come up with some breakthrough nuances in the citrus products we will be offering." Takasago International was established in Japan in 1920 and now has worldwide sales of over $1bn, with offices, production sites and development centers in 25 countries. Citrus fruits maintain popularity in the increasing wellbeing trend as they are high in antioxidants, having various health benefits. For example, researchers have found they may have a role to play in protection against neurodegenerative diseases.