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10/11/2022 – IFF / Flavors / Fragrances / International / Gulfood / Manufacturing

IFF: International Trailblazers in Taste & Food Design

IFF is a global leader in food, beverage, health, biosciences and scent, leveraging science and creativity to create essential solutions that meet growing consumer demand. Combining a broad and diverse product portfolio, the company offers end-to-end design across food and beverage products, with a dedication to do more good for people and the planet. Ahead of the NYSE-listed company’s appearance at Gulfood Manufacturing 2022 (8–10 November), Food & Beverage Networker sat down with Helga Moelschl, Regional President of IFF’s Nourish division in Dubai, to learn more about the trend-driven innovations and concepts that this international collective of thinkers will present at the world-leading F&B industry event.

Dubai Science Park Laboratory Complex is home to a state-of-the-art creation, application and innovation centre that, over the past few years, has been raising the bar in supporting regional customers in the development of food & beverage products to serve the ever evolving demands of consumers across the Middle East and Africa. Established in 2020 by IFF, the Dubai centre supports the creative and design needs of customers across an array of food and beverage categories – from beverages, snacks, confectionery and bakery, through to dairy, culinary and savoury. At the helm of this innovation hub is Helga Moelschl – a seasoned international professional in the realm of food and flavours, who will be showcasing IFF’s capabilities for the regional market at this year’s Gulfood Manufacturing in Dubai.

Indeed, IFF is back with a bang at the prestigious international F&B industry event with its ‘Innovate the Future of Food’ theme, unveiling an expanded portfolio for the first time, tied in with AR-powered nature-inspired experiential zones – and backed by the innovative company’s proprietary IFF PRODUCT DESIGN™ approach across a multitude of categories – to deliver an impressive showcase of IFF’s capabilities, as the group looks to drive growth in the African, Middle Eastern, Turkish and Indian (AMETI) markets.

Where science and creativity meet

IFF’s rich global legacy combines market-leading, innovative solutions for the food and beverage market. “In a world filled with hunger for more, for better and for healthier, we’re here to nourish it,” notes Ms. Moelschl. “We nourish by growing relationships with customers of all shapes and sizes, fuelling them with an end-to-end process product design and our comprehensive portfolio. We nourish by uniting creativity and science, to provide what’s essential and beyond what’s expected.”

IFF’s global network of food scientists and technologists, alongside a broad range of IFF technologies across flavours and ingredients, helps provide products with improved nutritional profiles, better taste and texture. “We work closely together with our customers to co-create market-ready, locally relevant solutions and recipes, involving them from conceptualisation through to commercialisation,” she tells us.

In recent years, IFF has launched innovative programmes such as RE-IMAGINE PROTEIN®, RE-IMAGINE WELLNESS™, and the Modulation Tool Kit, among others, to provide tailored solutions to meet the specific needs of sugar modulation, protein enhancement, holistic wellbeing and more. Beyond that, the global leader in food, beverage, health, biosciences and sensorial experiences leverages its proprietary insights framework ‘Panoptics’ to innovate and help bring ‘better for you’ products to market.

IFF at Gulfood Manufacturing 2022

At Gulfood Manufacturing 2022, visitors will have the opportunity to experience an impressive, nature-inspired, Augmented Reality-powered Innovative Booth featuring three extraordinary experiential zones: ‘Planet First – Ocean’; ‘Holistic Health – Rainforest’; and ‘Experience Amplified – Desert’.

An array of IFF’s latest food and beverage concepts will also be on show at the exhibition in Dubai. These include an ‘Ambient Yoghurt Drink’ – a convenient, healthy and tasty yoghurt offering a quick and satisfying dose of energy. Other interesting concepts include ‘Health Shot’ (functional beverage shots for holistic health) and ‘Cake Pop’ (tender, popsicle-shaped cakes that are bursting with flavour). 

IFF’s presence at Gulfood Manufacturing will also include an expert webinar and presentation on how this leading innovator re-imagines food for the future – backed by its expanded portfolio, panoptic trends, and programmes of upcycling waste, circular design, and alternative side streams; deploying IFF PRODUCT DESIGN™ to bring innovative, healthy and great tasting food products to the market.

Besides these features, there will be myriad IFF insights and perspectives explored around Sustainability, with the firm’s experts also delving into key lifestyle trends such as ‘Omnipresent Health & Wellbeing’, ‘Planet First’ and ‘Experience Amplified’.

Planet-first foods

Sustainability is increasingly on the radar of consumers, so it is encouraging to see that this subject is also front and centre of mind for IFF in terms of the insights it is gathering and, in turn, the solutions it is creating to support the development of planet-friendly food and beverage products. “Climate-conscious consumers today don’t just want sustainable food options; they want to lower the environmental impact of their food choices,” observes Ms. Moelschl. “For example, according to Euromonitor, 67 per cent of global consumers are already taking steps to use less plastic, to fight food waste, and to recycle, amongst other actions.”

Naturally, as ‘conscious consumption’ continues to rise, so too must the food & beverage industry’s efforts to help transform global food systems sustainably. “We recognise this, and we develop solutions that are good for customers, consumers, and the environment, because we know that this will allow us to support wider net-zero ambitions and help customers realise their own ESG targets,” she continues, adding: “There’s obviously no silver bullet when it comes to building a more sustainable food system, but technology will undoubtedly play a major role in unlocking some of the solutions.”

In response to the climate challenge the world now faces, alongside the increasing number of consumers now seeking out sustainable F&B products, IFF is developing technology-driven ingredients that look at reducing waste, extending shelf-life, improving food safety, and optimising resource efficiency. “New plant proteins that support the replacement of animal-based products; antioxidants and antimicrobials that extend shelf-life, and upcycled flavour extracts that reduce food waste are just some of the many examples of our work in this area,” Ms Moelschl reveals. “Citrus upcycling is one game-changing example or reference in terms of key food concepts.”

Health-conscious consumers

A trend that has only accelerated since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health is clearly a factor that has recently grown in importance in terms of what consumers are seeking in their food and beverage choices. The pervasive nature of this trend will be reflected in IFF’s holistic health focused ‘Rainforest Zone’ at Gulfood Manufacturing, where visitors will be invited to walk into a 360-degree simulated journey of omnipresent health & wellbeing, powered by IFF’s exclusive RE-IMAGINE WELLNESS™ programme, accompanied by Health Shots (functional beverages) to provide an all-inclusive approach to wellness. 

Crucially, IFF sees uniting the consumer desire for ‘health & wellness’ with ‘indulgence’ as a key trend across categories. “The food flavours and ingredients market is observing rapid expansion amidst increasing consumption of processed foods that not only have functional health benefits, but also taste great, and come in convenient formats such as ready-to-eat meals,” Ms. Moelschl notes, adding that key products in this segment are emulsifiers, sweeteners, flavours, food enhancers, probiotics and other functional ingredients.

Notably, IFF is responding to the ever-expanding interest in plant-based food & beverages, and especially plant-based proteins – a dynamic driven by the ever-evolving palate and overall lifestyle change of consumers. Globally, health & wellness are driving the premium plant-based segment in particular. Likewise, this is demonstrated locally in the UAE, where the value of meat substitute products is forecast to grow to US$15.1m by 2023 (Global Data, 2019), as the popularity of not only veganism but also flexitarianism continue to expand.

“Backed by our expanded portfolio, we are able to provide customised solutions to our customers,” advises Ms. Moelschl. “We’ve always believed in driving innovation through collaboration and co-creation. This means we work closely with our customers to understand their needs and aspirations. In AMETI [Africa, Middle East, Turkey, and the Indian Subcontinent], we plan to continue expanding on these co-creation capabilities.”

Invaluable insights: IFF’s Panoptic studies

IFF’s global network of expert innovators are constantly studying and identifying the most impactful shifts and dynamics set to shape the future of the food & beverage industry, in turn enabling its customers to future-proof their businesses for the myriad emerging challenges and opportunities that lie ahead over the next decade. “As part of IFF’s Panoptic studies, within the three-to-five-year time horizon, the company has identified 30 lifestyle trends that reflect the changes in peoples’ values, needs, aspirations and behaviours,” reports Ms. Moelschl, going on to share some of these with us.

Specific to the AMETI regions, such dynamics include the aforementioned emphasis in Sustainability: “Global consumers are keen on buying products that are environment-friendly; they are paying closer attention to food safety, clean label and sourcing, and they are increasingly engaged in programs like IFF’s Upcycle and RE-IMAGINE WASTE™,” she tells us. Moreover, such observations are backed up by research, with 67 per cent of global consumers claiming to use less plastic, fight food waste and recycle, according to Euromonitor, while 36 per cent of Saudi consumers are influenced by environmentally responsible sourcing.

IFF’s Panoptic studies likewise reveal Health as a transformational trend for the F&B sector: “Consumers are taking a more proactive attitude and encompassing a 360-degree, holistic approach to managing their health and wellbeing,” observes Ms. Moelschl, going on to comment on the expanding focus amongst people globally on mental health and managing cognitive disorders. Indeed, a recent survey revealed that 62 per cent of consumers actively seek out healthy ingredients in food and beverages, while 53 per cent closely read the nutrition label.

One key and enduring driver for the consumer is what Ms. Moelschl describes as ‘Experiential Delight’. “Taste, texture and appearance are equally important to the consumer today, with 68 per cent in the UAE seeking new experiences in food, and 69 per cent looking for curated experiences tailored to their tastes.” Indeed, such consumer desire will be reflected at Gulfood Manufacturing 2022 in IFF’s AR-driven immersive zones – specifically the ‘Experience Amplified – Desert Zone’ where visitors will be given the opportunity to relax and soak in the uncommon shared experiences of a desert oasis at the booth-end. They can co-create tender Cake Pops by selecting IFF flavours and toppings of their choice, and can even capture ‘Digital Postcards’ of their ‘IFF Desert Safari’ to share with the world. 

Rising food inflation across the globe, not to mention food insecurity in many emerging markets, has meant that ‘Affordability’ has been forced up the list of consumer priorities this year when it comes to food and beverage choices. “We’ve identified price sensitivity, specific to the MET (Middle East, Turkey) region, as a key dynamic today, wherein people are looking for more affordable products,” Ms. Moelschl advises. Such assertions are supported by the findings of a regional PWC survey: Around 57 per cent of consumers in the Middle East say they are more price-sensitive in the post-pandemic world, while 66 per cent of Middle East consumers claim to be focused on saving.

At the same time, ‘Convenience’ continues to be a prominent motivator, as demonstrated by surveys showing that 32 per cent of UAE consumers continue to use meal kits, while 65 per cent of consumers in Saudi Arabia say they are ready to spend on ready-to-eat. 

“IFF navigates through all of these trends supported by an expanded portfolio of flavours, food ingredients and systems, and a Complete Product Design approach, which supports the development of products from conceptualisation to commercialisation,” Ms. Moelschl asserts. “Moreover, we draw considerably upon IFF’s innovation programmes – including RE-IMAGINE WELLNESS™, RE-IMAGINE PROTEIN®, RE-IMAGINE WASTE™, RE-MASTER CITRUS™, and Product Modulation and Reformulation technologies, among others,” she continues, adding that IFF pays close attention to nutrition and taste, alongside sustainability, in all its food product formulations.

Consumer-centric food design outcomes

So, how does IFF support F&B manufacturers, and help them to leverage upon such trends and opportunities? “With growing consumer demand for clean eating, nutritious, but also tasty food & beverage choices, IFF offers a number of speciality ingredients with functional benefits and customised flavour modifiers to help our customers bring better-tasting, better-for-you products to market,” responds Ms. Moelschl. The Regional President of IFF’s new Nourish division goes on to advise that her team – as with IFF’s more than 3,000-strong army of innovators across the globe – is dedicated to scientific research focused on taste and aroma in flavour creation, alongside the identification of delivery systems and new technologies for food solutions. 

“It is our IFF PRODUCT DESIGN™ approach that drives consumer-centric food design outcomes. This approach helps us anticipate customer’s needs and to develop solutions ahead of the market,” she tells us. “It guides customers with their needs – from definition of the opportunity, ideation and innovation, to concept validation and commercialisation.”

Proprietary tools in sensory science and consumer science, market intelligence, future trends analysis, and consumer segmentation further bolster the process. The Panoptic is one such complementary tool, as Ms. Moelschl elaborates: “Panoptic refers to IFF’s proprietary trends and foresight capabilities and studies, which identify the most impactful shifts and dynamics shaping the short-, mid- and long-term future of the food industry across categories: beverage, dairy, snacks and bakery.”

Future-proofing food

In the Second Quarter of 2022, IFF’s Nourish division experienced double-digit growth at 15 per cent – and looking ahead, the company sees an abundance of opportunity in the economically expanding AMETI region as well. Such buoyant prospects are set to be reflected by the company’s strong and dynamic presence at the upcoming Gulfood Manufacturing show, where IFF’s multi-faceted and expansive expo booth will showcase for the first time an expanded portfolio of flavour expertise powered by food ingredients and systems, alongside the company’s renowned Product Design Approach to help customers – plus three immersive, AR-powered Experiential Zones to transport visitors on a journey into the future of food. 

Ultimately, Ms. Moelschl is clear that IFF recognises its industry-leading role in helping to create this future of food, as characterised by two main areas: “The first of these is the importance of pioneering innovation and seeing major advancements through our quality products – in terms of taste, texture and nutritional profile – in order to suit local preferences,” she asserts in closing. “In collaboration with our customers, we also believe that strong market insights, consumer mapping and a proper regulatory procedure effectively future-proofs our offerings and sets trends that are aligned with – and support – consumer needs where taste, health, nutrition and well-being are concerned.” Certainly, IFF has already blazed a progressive trail in such fields for decades, and this international collective of innovative thinkers’ vast and ever-evolving portfolio of flavours and ingredients are sure to be at the forefront of breakthroughs in creating safer, healthier and more sustainable diets in the decades to come.

Latest issue – Vol 1/23
– Health & Nutrition focus
– Gulfood 2023 Special
– Next level legume – The rise of the chickpea
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