ASEAN August 2020
 
Takasago celebrates 100th anniversary with ambitious expansion plan in ASEAN
 
AFBR has recently interviewed Ms Siew Hoong Chan, Consumer Insights and Market Research, Asia Leader, Flavours Division, Takasago International (Singapore) Pte. Ltd in conjunction with Takasago’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2020.
Ms Chan has provided interesting valuable insights from the history of Takasago to its future expansion plan in ASEAN region as well as her take on the latest flavor trends and development in this region.
The following are excerpts from the interview:

What are the major achievements made by Takasago in the past 100 years in terms of food ingredients development and deliveries?
One hundred years ago, Tadaka Kainosho, the founder of Takasago International Corporation came to wish that he were able to launch a perfumery business as a homegrown industry pioneer. In 1910, aiming to fulfil his ambition, he went to Europe at his own expense to study and train. Tadaka was determined to build a company specialising in the manufacture of aroma ingredients, one of the first of its kind in Japan. Those who had previously worked under Tadaka came together and Takasago International Corporation was founded in 1920.
Today, Takasago International Corporation supplies flavours and fragrances as well as other products through the application of proprietary techniques in over 27 countries. We continued to pursue large-scale investments to ensure our continued growth. These include our production plant in Jakarta, Indonesia, acquisition of additional land in Germany for the future expansion, and then expansion of the flavour production facility in Guangzhou, China.
Based on our corporate philosophy “Contributing to Society through Technology”, Takasago continuously invest to innovate and improve our knowledge, expertise and processes to strive for sustainable growth.
To meet a growing demand for sustainable products, we are focusing on environmentally friendly products/ processes, employing the Takasago group’s unique technologies, such as catalysts and continuous flow for the products, and natural flavour and fragrance ingredients utilising fermentation method as well as natural resources processing.
Our technologically driven approach will propel us as a top-class flavour and fragrance company. Takasago is also vertically integrated in citrus, coffee, tea, mint, and vanilla to drive quality and sustainable raw materials for flavor creations.
We leverage our consumer insights, technologies and expertise in creating consumer preferred flavours to continually offer solutions to our customers that are relevant to the needs of the consumers and support the benefits of the brands/products they intend to launch in the market.
How would you describe Takasago's main business objective in this region ? Does the company have a unique positioning/strategy in this part of the world ? Is it targeting certain F&B segments?
In Asia Pacific, Takasago Japan (HQ) covers North Asia – Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Takasago China looks after the China market and Takasago Singapore spans Southeast Asia, Australia / New Zealand and South Asia. As a Japanese company, we are the number 1 Flavours and Fragrances company in terms of market share in Japan. We are rapidly expanding our presence in Southeast Asia and China. We have Creative and Manufacturing facilities in Japan, China, India, Singapore and the newest one is in Indonesia.
We mainly supply flavours that are used in Beverages, Savory, Bakery, Confectionery and Oral Care products. We continually develop flavours that are optimised for local tastes of consumers in each market.
As Indonesia is the largest market in Southeast Asia, Takasago has made significant investment to further strengthen our presence in this growing market. Our Indonesian factory is the first factory for Takasago globally that will produce only Halal items for both flavours and fragrances. Furthermore, our new factory in Indonesia expands Takasago’s production capacity and capability in this highly competitive region.
We will be able to shorten delivery lead times and offer better local support in creation and applications, while maintaining the consistent quality of products delivered as before. Our Indonesian factory will manufacture liquid, powder and spray dried products.

What do you perceive as the top food and beverage flavour trends now developing in this region (ASEAN)?
The following trending flavors spotlight is based on Takasago’s TrendSeeds® Approach, which incorporates market analyses, consumer insights, and technical expertise from our flavor chemists and application teams.
The use of botanicals in food and beverages continues to grow, bringing new taste dimensions across a range of categories with floral flavors used especially in RTD teas. Botanicals, like herbs, flowers and spices deliver flavors that are complex, and often not sweet. They can boast provenance and health appeal of the product.
Authenticity and naturality are without any doubt among the most relevant food and beverage trends to consumers. VIVID® flavors are Takasago’s vibrant true to nature flavors crafted by state-of-the-art technology and expert flavor creation. Beginning with the premium quality food such as fruit or vegetable, we collect & analyze the natural aroma using advance analytical techniques. Proprietary chiral chemistry and natural separation techniques give the true nuances to the flavor. Hybrid flavours such as sweet and savoury or even savoury and spicy flavours have moved beyond savoury food to beverages, desserts, snacks, ice cream, yogurt, etc. Many brands are pairing spices with more well-known flavours like mainstream fruits to provide unique taste experiences and sensations. Spiced food does not necessarily translate to spicy, but spices add vibrant layers of flavour and aroma.
With the COVID 19 pandemic, consumers may be more focused on “needs” rather than “wants” with a heightened concern on immunity protection. This will present opportunities for inclusion of ingredients linked with functional benefits. However, such inclusion may sometimes pose challenges for food manufacturers on how to modulate off-notes typical of certain ingredients.
Takasago’s INTENSATES® masking and modulating flavours are versatile, powerful solutions that can be used in a variety of products to convey just the right experience that individuals are searching for: masking of off-notes, improved mouthfeel or sweetness or umami. These solutions are studied and optimized on multiple applications targeting individual needs, as there is no one-key-fits-all for this category.
Apart from immunity protection, consumers are also drawn to foods that are comforting and may also seek out moments of escapism from the pressures of “stay-at-home” or “work-from-home” or “learn-from-home”. Escapism may be linked to nostalgia or favourable perceptions of the past. During times of stress, creating joy through food and beverages by maximizing taste or using indulgent flavours are also opportunities for manufacturers.
What are the apparent differences between ASEAN consumers and those from other regions (for e.g. western countries) when it comes to taste and flavour preferences in food and beverage products?
In ASEAN, there is not only diversity in ethnicity, culture, language and religion in each country, there are also differences in purchasing power and consumer spending across markets. Developed markets like Singapore and Thailand are perhaps more open and consumers are faster in adopting some of the global trends in food and beverage products.
For example, US consumers are adopting cold brew coffee beverages beyond just afternoon consumption when cold brew coffee was first introduced in the US. Here, cold brew beverages are also launched although not as prevalent – maybe more in Singapore and Thailand. In such countries, manufactures target younger consumers who may be more receptive towards a less bitter tasting coffee for a more refreshing taste.
Global food tourism has been trending the last several years prior to COVID-19. The question is whether travel restrictions and being home bound will mean that consumers’ taste for flavours from around the world will disappear. Generally, consumers still hanker for new and unique experiences – as part of the need for novelty and escapism.
Local ethnic flavours can lend a sense of familiarity and comfort. There is also an opportunity to position with health benefits as local ingredients are often associated with them. Brands can meet consumers’ needs with limited or seasonal launches using local or seasonal ingredients. There is a rich palate of local flavors from local ingredients which is perhaps not fully explored. Examples abound like pandan which is associated with lowering blood pressure or jaggery which is associated with antioxidant health benefits.
Another key difference is the variation in intensity of flavour preferences in Asean consumers. In Thailand, the palate tends towards more clean and lighter flavour preferences whereas in the Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam, consumers lean towards more intense flavours. This is especially apparent for savoury flavours for categories such as snacks, instant noodles, bouillons, etc.
 
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