Growing health concerns in MENA will drive demand for food flavourings in functional foods

By Guan Yu Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Scentium, the flavour division of the Iberchem Group, which is in turn newly part of the Croda Group, recently launched a new production centre in Tunisia  ©Getty Images
Scentium, the flavour division of the Iberchem Group, which is in turn newly part of the Croda Group, recently launched a new production centre in Tunisia ©Getty Images

Related tags MENA COVID-19 flavourings Functional foods

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating interest in functional foods and could prove to be a boon for flavour firms which can help mask undesirable taste profiles.

In the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA), the pandemic has led to growing interest in immunity-related products, while sugar taxes are set to increase beverage reformulation.

Flavour firm Scentium’s global sales director Matthieu Girard told us: “We see more recipes with additional positive health effects especially in the immunity space, and we’re seeing a trend in supplements, vitamins or extracts that offer these effects​.”

One example are yoghurt drinks containing probiotics that claim to reinforce the immune system.

However, some nutrients impart an undesirable taste when incorporated into foods and drinks: “Sometimes with vitamins and other active ingredients, they taste a bit astringent or bitter, which is not pleasant for the consumer​,” Girard explained.

He highlighted the importance of flavours in such applications to develop products with specific health functions, but that did not compromie on taste.

This is particularly true for functional foods and drinks, and fortified foods which come in formats such as bars, shakes, and jelly.

Sugar taxes in the region will also see more companies reducing sugar content, creating products such as flavoured water.

Beyond creating flavour and masking unpleasant notes, flavours also provide a cost-competitiveness, according to Girard.

Using of food flavourings disconnect the costs from the fluctuations of natural ingredients, by lowering the use of natural raw ingredients in the final recipe without affecting the taste perception​.”

Flavour plant

On the back of these trends, Scentium recently opened a flavour production centre in Tunis, Tunisia to serve the North Africa region..

This is its ninth flavour centre, with other factories in Europe, South Africa, and Asia.

The Tunisia plant covers 700 square metres, comprising a production plant, two warehouses, laboratory and offices.  It will produce liquid and powder flavours as well as emulsions.

Girard told FoodNavigator-Asia​ that its flavouring business currently accounts for 20% ofparent company Iberchem Group’s business.

There is so much potential for flavours to grow beyond the rate of fragrances, so we decided over the last two years to significantly invest in flavours​,” he said.

One of the investments being the new factory in Tunisia, the other include a flavour production facility in India, Ahmedabad.

Within the three years, Scentium also acquired Flavor Inn Corporation Sdn Bhd in Malaysia, Nanchang XinDuoMei Biotech Co.,Ltd in China, and Versachem in South Africa.

The initial opening of the Tunisia factory was scheduled for the first half of 2020, which was delayed due to the pandemic.

Iberchem Group was recently acquired by Croda Group in November 18, 2020.

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