Firmenich, one of the world's most well established flavor houses and known for its leadership in innovation, is preparing for the future. Recognizing that changing consumer behavior is generating significant growth and will continue to do so into the future, the Flavors Division has radically shifted and rebranded its approach to innovation to meet the needs of the future consumer.
By leveraging its best-in-class consumer insights on flavor and taste preference and linking them to future mega trends that identify shifts in consumer behavior, Firmenich believes that its forthcoming innovation investments will create and drive consumer preferences, keeping pace with the ever-changing global marketplace.
Firmenich Flavors will now approach Flavor innovation looking at its future through three platforms: Health and Nutrition; Natural and Sustainable; and Breakthrough Cost Innovation. These platforms capture and capitalize on the continued consumer demand for healthier and more nutritious food and beverages, the growing public interest and awareness in the sustainability of natural products and, on the increasing and significant emphasis food and beverage manufacturers will place on cost efficiency.
"With this new set-up, we are combining our traditional approach—which focuses on our technologies as the primary drivers of innovation - with the addition of a deep analysis of the challenges of our times and of the future," said Aldo Uva, president of Firmenich Flavors. "This internal- and external-facing combination will ensure we are creating the solutions that are prepared to meet the challenges of the future and the needs of our customers and their consumers."
Meeting consumer needs in an era of global growth
Consumers are in control and the growing population in both mature and high-growth markets is creating an increased need for available, affordable and nutritious food. Firmenich Flavors Health and Nutrition platform will focus on meeting this need, which includes the current push for calorie, sugar and salt reduction as well as emerging challenges, such as protein availability and other nutritional shortages. In order to maintain objectivity, the company is assembling an external panel of nutrition specialists to advise on innovations in this area.
Natural and Sustainable will focus on the company's natural raw material supply, ensuring core natural materials, including citrus, vanilla, mint and cocoa, are sourced sustainably and effectively. This platform will also address the growing consumer demand for clean label and develop new and innovative ways to help customers meet this requirement.
Breakthrough Cost Innovation will focus on new technologies, processes and approaches to offer more efficient value across the company's entire flavor portfolio. Firmenich will seek to deliver more value to customers and consumers through a more sustainable supply chain with less waste, higher efficiency and improved performance.
New approach to flavors innovation
The name of this new innovation group is i5 (I to the power of 5); in which the five "I"s stand for ideate, invent, invest, inspire, ignite. To lead i5, Firmenich has appointed Gary Smith, a senior executive with 25 years of Flavors experience with Firmenich. Most recently, Mr. Smith managed the Group's Taste Modulation business unit (NATAMO) and also its Global Strategic Customer business unit. "I am thrilled to take on the leadership of this new team," Mr. Smith said. "This is an exciting time for the Flavors industry and I am confident that our approach is the best way to handle the challenges—and the opportunities—that the future will bring."
As a result, this new approach will see the full alignment of resources within the company. Innovation will be approached cross-functionally; with input from Supply Chain, Purchasing, Research & Development, Marketing and Technical, and it will fully leverage the support of the other two commercial Divisions within Firmenich, Perfumery and Ingredients.
The company also recognizes that to solve the complex issues facing the food and beverage industry new business models and closer relationships with partners, suppliers and clients will be required. "It will be imperative to gain synergies through collaboration and the sharing of resources not only to approach and solve challenges, but to also help identify the potential route to market for new solutions," Mr. Uva concluded.