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The ‘Flavour Ambassadors’ is an EFFA  multimedia project launched in 2019 and aimed at sharing the passion and expertise of European flavour professionals. Through the project we aim to give the industry a “voice” and showcase its many facades and the blend of knowledge that is needed to create flavourings that ultimately enrich our food and drinks.

The community of Flavour Ambassadors is comprised of varied industry specialists who are passionate about their profession and volunteered to take part in this EFFA project. Our Flavour Ambassadors represent the different departments of variously sized companies from all over Europe and are of different cultures and backgrounds. In each episode of the interviews, the ambassadors show the various aspects in the creating process, explain what their role in the flavour house is, what drives and challenges them, and how their expertise contributes to the flavour and food industry in Europe and globally. With professionals ranging from regulatory to sensory and marketing departments, each focuses on their own expertise and added value and together they showcase the complexity of the flavour industry processes.

In this interview, Sensory Analysis Manager - Hélène Allain gives a thorough insight into the aspects of her profession and the process of flavour testing.
Make sure to scroll down to read more.


Hélène Allain

Sensory Analysis Manager

 

181026B-EFF_0320Why did you choose the sensory analyst career?

In my opinion, understanding the perception and liking the process of a food product is essential. Sensory analysis is a profession that embraces several complementary fields such as human physiology - to understand the food perception mechanisms, linguistics - to find the right words to describe complex sensations, and statistics - to interpret and sum up essential information out of multiple individual responses.

What was the most interesting thing you've ever worked on?

At MANE I have had the occasion to work on a project focusing on the comprehension of “the real taste of fruit”. Within this project we have been surveying consumers, tasting fruit and flavoured products to understand where the differences were lying in terms of sensory properties. When tasting fruit, consumers were talking about the “juiciness” of the fruit and we found out that this dimension was more than just a textural property and was highly linked to the sweetness or the acidity of the fruit, and even to its flavour complexity. This deep analysis helped us guide flavourists in the formulation of flavours closer to the real fruit, flavours that could bring a “juicy” sensation into the final product.

 

What do you find particularly fascinating about your job?

Thanks to my work as sensory analyst within the flavour industry, I am experiencing food products coming from all over the world. Tasting and analysing this large variety of products shows us how different tastes and food preferences vary from one country to another or how taste preferences are evolving throughout the years. This is a kind of societal analysis through the comprehension of the taste of food!

 

What is the flavour industry for you? What is food to you?

I discovered the flavour industry universe about 8 years ago, when I joined Mane, and I still find it fascinating to be able to de-structure and re-structure an infinity of flavours that will directly meet consumers in their everyday consumption.

Food and flavours are all around us, in our everyday life, being in processed food products or in our garden. While eating, from the breakfast coffee to the piece of chocolate with a good book in the evening, consumers are experiencing flavours, and flavours have this extraordinary capacity to trigger the richest sensory memory: the olfactory memory.

We all have individual food memories, a “Madeleine de Proust", that flavours might surprisingly remind us of! I personally like to share the memory of my father’s beef stew, and when I’m experiencing the smell and taste of this typical dish in a food product, it automatically brings back to me, not only the memento of my father’s stew taste, but the whole story around it : the people, the place, the sounds, the emotions linked to it. I don’t know any other industrial products enabling such a deep dive into our emotions!




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