Tasting success – Business booms for sensory specialists FlavorActiV
FlavorActiV, the leading global provider of sensory training and tools, has quadrupled its customer base over recent months and has moved to a new head office in Thame, Oxfordshire to accommodate its expanding workforce.
A total of 2,500 breweries and other beverage production sites globally are now using FlavorActiV’s products and services. Much of the increase in sales has come from the soft drinks industry, where FlavorActiV has started to deliver sensory training for some of the leading companies.
The boom in business is a vindication of the major investment programme undertaken by FlavorActiV in 2012. The company introduced new software for its Taster Validation Scheme, redeveloped its flavour standards with a new supply partner, Quay Pharma, and launched a sensory assessment service.
FlavorActiV managing director Richard Boughton said, “Our success is based on investment and innovation. At a time when many companies, particularly in the brewing industry, have been tightening their belts, we looked for ways to develop the service and products we offer our customers.
“It’s an approach that has paid huge dividends. We became the first in the industry to put flavour standards into blister packs, while our new taster validation software has been widely praised by customers for easing the sensory tasting process for them.”
FlavorActiV’s investment was rewarded quickly with interest from the leading soft drinks producers, which complements the work in the brewing industry on which the company was founded. Almost all major brewers globally use FlavorActiV’s sensory training or tools.
Boughton said, “The principles of sensory taste panels are as applicable to soft drinks as to beer and our aim at FlavorActiV is the same – to ensure our customers’ beverages reach the market tasting exactly as they should taste, time after time and wherever in the world they’re produced.
“However, we have adapted our service with, for example, a number of new flavour standards formulated specifically for our soft drinks programmes.”
He added, “One of the benefits of changing our supply of flavour standards is that we now have our own dedicated flavour centre. This allows us to continuously develop new products as we identify a need for them.” In addition to the flavours for soft drinks, FlavorActiV has launched five new beer flavour standards this year – Methional, Cooked Veg, Rotten Veg, Yeasty and Astringent – and has many more in development for the beer, beverage and wine markets.
New GMP flavour standards
Since the move in supply, all FlavorActiV’s flavour standards have been produced to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) pharmaceutical quality standards – a requirement demanded by an increasing number of brewers and beverage producers globally.
At the same time, flavour standards were moved into blister packs, which offer a raft of benefits over the previous capsules, including greater ease of use, better product stability and reduced risk of contamination. Feedback from FlavorActiV customers has been universally positive.
David Burgess, Group Quality Director at Carlsberg Group, said, “We have been impressed with the quality that FlavorActiV’s GMP flavour standards are produced to and the ease of use of their blister packaging. In conjunction with this, the continuing improvements they have introduced to their Taster Validation System help Carlsberg to train and monitor its sensory panels professionally.”
FlavorActiV has also developed a handful of flavour standard kits targeted at the needs of the burgeoning craft brewing industry. The Craft Brewers’ Sensory Training Kit comes in three sizes to suit different brewing operations: the five-capsule pack is ideal for home brewers; the 10-capsule pack is aimed at enthusiast and smaller craft brewers; and the 20-capsule pack at larger operations. The 20-capsule kit is supplied with instructions on how to set up and manage a brewery tasting panel.
The new, purpose-built Thame office accommodates FlavorActiV’s Global Sensory Managers, marketing and logistics teams. Flavour standard production is based in Flintshire, where FlavorActiV has a sealed laboratory, production unit and laboratory quality control area with a team of dedicated technicians and an expert panel.