Five years after the first Brussels FlavourDay, and following events in various European cities, including Paris and Berlin earlier this year, the FlavourDay reinvented itself for a full European audience with a Virtual FlavourDay. The challenge? To keep what makes the FlavourDay special: the possibility for the attendees to 'taste' the key messages of the event. The answer? The Flavour of Europe.
On the afternoon of the 23 November 2021, the Virtual FlavourDay was held, organised by the European Flavour Association (EFFA). The main objective of the event was to explore the role of taste in food. Taste is often mentioned as one of the main drivers for consumer choices. This event tried to go a step further and think together about what that can mean, how taste can help being a driver for more sustainable and conscious choices by enabling the consumers to choose a product that is good for them, good for the planet, but also tasty and enjoyable. With more than 360 participants, the event was a success.
In his opening speech, the EFFA Communications Board Liaison and Past EFFA President, Mr Antoine Kastler, highlighted the passion aspect of the flavour industry and its people. In particular, he thanked the EFFA volunteers, in the year that marks the Association's 60th anniversary; and the Flavour Ambassadors, a passionate group of flavour professionals who serve as spokespersons of the industry, and special team among them, who created the Flavour of Europe for the occasion of the event. He also reminded the pan-European reach of the event: "Generally, the FlavourDays were linked to a city, but this time, due to the exceptional circumstances of the past two years, we decided to do it virtually, which allowed us to do a truly European FlavourDay. We are really glad to have flavour houses, authorities, customers and associations with us from all over Europe and even beyond."
The event started with a keynote speech exploring the future trends and consumers needs and expectations when it comes to taste. Ms Regina Maiseviciute Haydon, Global Food and Drink Analyst at Mintel, emphasised that great taste and appealing new flavours are some of the basic factors that drive customers' interest and engagement when it comes to their needs behind flavour choices.
To find out what drives all this passion behind taste and its deep connections with memories and emotions, we dived into the sensory part of the Virtual FlavourDay: The Flavour of Europe.
EFFA Flavour Ambassador Flavourists from the UK, France, Italy and Germany got together to create a European cocktail, as a matter of fact, a sugar-reduced non-alcoholic candy cocktail, that tells the European story. As you could have guessed, there is not only one #FlavourOfEurope, but many different ones. To prove this, our Flavourists created four different candies. Three of them are made with typical ingredients from different European regions. A talented musician, Mr Adriano Galante, created melodies for each of them. Attendees could taste the candies one by one, while listening to the music. The surprise came with the fourth candy, the final one: the Flavour of Europe: It was a combination of the three previous flavours, and the metaphor was reinforced by the fourth melody, that combined all the previous notes and instruments. The message was clear. We are very good individually, but even better when together. Mr Steve Pearce, Flavour Ambassador and lead of the Flavour of Europe team, defined like this the final Flavour of Europe’: The Flavour, I envisioned and that we created together, is titled “European Sunrise” and represents something, everyone experiences across Europe, every day. Dawn, bringing a fresh, new start and the promise of a big, bright, beautiful, tomorrow at the end of every difficult day, particularly relevant, I thought, during difficult times, such as the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The inspiration of the ingredients also came from an EFFA Social Media campaign #TheFlavourofEurope and attendees of the Virtual FlavourDay got the chance to be part of a sensorial game by writing in a word-cloud what they thought the Flavour of Europe candies contained.
The idea of the Flavour of Europe started by trying to look for a way to make the Virtual FlavourDay tangible for our attendees, bridge the gap toof the virtual world. But goes beyond the event, we have now a tangible product that not only tells the story of the Flavour of Europe, but also of the overall flavour industry. With the passion and creativity of the industry, it is possible to help consumers to have more conscious and sustainable lifestyles, by helping to make the healthy choice, the tasty choice. As an example, the final candy containing the full Flavour of Europe is sugar reduced. More information on the Flavour of Europe, the stories of the ingredients chosen, and on the team of flavourists who created them, can be found on the EFFA website.
Enticed by the Flavour of Europe session, the event continued with a panel discussion on the topic: ‘When sustainable meets tasty: Can we have it all?’ The panel was moderated by Ms Florence Rason, and featured Ms Alexandra Nikolakopoulou, Head of Unit Farm to Fork Strategy at DG SANTE, European Commission; Dr Betty Chang, Team Lead of Consumer Insights at the European Food Information Council (EUFIC), and Ms Alice Ravenscroft, Head of Policy at the Good Food Institute. They discussed the importance of a transition towards a sustainable diet, and what can drive consumers to it. The role of taste was highlighted as something that can help consumers avoid making sacrifices when choosing a sustainable or healthy product. In a way, to have it all.
MEP Irène Tolleret (Renew Europe Group, France) shared a video message with us on the importance of sugar reduction. Additionally, MEP Francisco Guerreiro (Greens/EFA Group, Portugal) recorded a video message on the topic of on plant-based proteins, highlighting the importance of the update of alternative proteins to achieve a sustainable future. These are examples of two kind of areas (sugar reduction and alternative proteins) where taste has an essential role to play.
The EFFA President Marc van der Duijs, was in charge of the closing remarks and he celebrated the possibility to have sustainable and conscious diet products, without compromising on taste.
The Virtual FlavourDay event and the Flavour of Europe tasting kit will be available on-demand. If you are interested, you can contact the EFFA Secretariat via email@example.com.
For more information about the European Virtual FlavourDay and previous FlavourDays, please visit https://effa.eu/flavourings/brussels-flavourday
 Special Eurobarometer 505: Making our food fit for the future – Citizens' expectations.