The company is tapping into some very pressing challenges, as manufactures seek ways to make their products healthier while maintaining their indulgent appeal. Givaudan is putting its attention to salt reduction, sugar removal and fat elimination without compromising taste and texture. 'The ability to deliver innovative flavour science and technology solutions is key to successfully addressing the global market opportunities," said the company. Efforts for sugar, salt and fat reduction have stepped up across the board as part of an effort to reduce the toll of unhealthy eating on obesity and other lifestyle related diseases. Furthermore, new labelling laws will require companies to clearly display nutritional content, therefore making the issues evermore pressing. Givaudan's R&D organisation and capabilities were significantly enhanced and expanded through last year's Quest acquisition as the synergy allowed for the research discovery portfolio to be broadened and reshaped. As well as integrating two R&D groups, Givaudan's flavour division entered a research and licensing agreement with Redpoint Bio Corporation to further build on the company's TasteSolutions programme for health and wellness. Salt reduction Numerous scientists are convinced that high salt intake is responsible for increasing blood pressure (hypertension), a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) - a disease that causes almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe. The UK Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) says that a resident in the western developed world consumes between 10g and 12g a day, when it is advised to consume only 6g. In many Western countries, the majority of salt comes from processed foods, accounting for 80 per cent of the consumption of sodium chloride according to Givaudan. However, salt-reduced foods are generally less palatable and their differences can be easily detected by consumers. Salt has been the focus of the company's TasteSolutions programme. Rather than removing salt altogether, Givaudan has been working on tasteless substances that enhance the impression of salt and has made progress in the development of biochemically generated building blocks that can increase the perception of saltiness. This allows for food products with up to 40 to 50 per cent lower salt content, which the company says has the same sensory qualities as those with higher salt contents. Sweetening While artificial sweeteners address caloric intake issues, Givaudan said their desirability is limited by a number of negative attributes. Therefore, it focuses on the partial removal of sugar with retention of the initial sweetness perception while masking the negative attributes of artificial sweeteners. The company claimed it gained knowledge from its TasteTrek investigation of ethnic cuisines and bio-prospecting fuelled ingredient discovery leading to a number of sweetness modulators that boost the perceived sweetness intensity in reduced sugar systems. It said that its investigation of the taste transduction mechanism has led to the development of bioassay specific proprietary intellectual property to facilitate the rapid identification of novel molecules. Other food innovations "Approximately 50 per cent of the current activity is focused on taste and ingredient research to capitalize on the wealth of emerging technology opportunities," said the company. As well as health and wellness being a pressing issue, Givaudan said that molecules that provide warming, cooling or tingling sensations in the mouth have been increasingly important as unique flavour design components. Last year, Givaudan introduced two cooling agents on its Evercool line, but the company is not alone in seizing on this emerging trend. Last month, Senomyx and Firmenich entered into a three-year partnership to develop novel flavor ingredients that provide a cooling taste effect. Givaudan's R&D department is also focusing on flavour delivery systems. A number of patented technologies in the Pure Delivery line have been developed to stabilise ingredients, retain highly volatile components, and control release. With extended release technology there is the ability to time the release of distinct flavour notes. The company says it is possible in a chewing gum application to sequentially release two different flavours with enough separation to clearly perceive the distinct sensory impact of the individual flavours. Meanwhile, sensory measurement research continues to investigate new evaluation processes and tools which can be utilised to understand consumer preferences.