Our senses are activated every second of every day. When we listen to music, when we read books, when we pet our furry friends. But the real multi-sensory magic happens when we experience food and drink. It is during these gastronomic moments that our senses are engaged to the max, interacting with fizzy drinks being poured, steam from freshly cooked foods and utensils clinking as they are placed on the table. As aromas drift through the air, our noses tell us exactly what we are eating long before our eyes see our food.
Our culinary experiences may include touching fancy cutlery, picking up long-stemmed icy glasses, or grabbing a piece of fried chicken out of a big bucket. Our senses engage with our surroundings and, at some point, we finally get to recruit the greatest sense of all in the world of food and drink – taste.
Taste may be the most important sense when it comes to food and drink, but it’s actually a byproduct of all our senses combined. Whether you’re enjoying an ice-cold cola at a beach, eating a sandwich in contemplative solitude in the middle of the night on your sofa, or slicing into a juicy steak at a noisy restaurant with friends, the settings we choose to consume food and beverage in stimulate our senses in unique ways, which in turn affects our culinary choices, level of satisfaction, and perception of holistic food experiences.
At Food Matters Live’s Tastes of Better event in March, Sweegen promises a fully immersive multi-sensory storytelling experience, which it calls Sweegen’s Immersive Multisensory Experiences for Disruptive Food & Beverage Product Development, for guests to fully explore exactly how senses affect food and beverage choices.
As for how the company plans to execute this, Sweegen will leverage multi-sensory skills and capabilities to re-create real-life experiences where guests will have the opportunity to feel fully immersed, in their scenario of choice, by engaging multiple senses while making food and beverage choices. Tickets are now available for guests to find out exactly what Sweegen has planned. And Sweegen, which prides itself on being a disrupter in the ingredient space, will not be holding back.
“We will stimulate as many senses as we can during this exclusive event,” says Natasha Dsouza, VP Taste and Consumer Experience at Sweegen. “I started the Sensory & Consumer Insights division here, I’m a very passionate sensory scientist. My team really works hard to understand the consumer behaviour that leads to food and drink choices, and then translate those insights into the product development process to ensure products fulfill specific needs or bridge gaps identified by the consumers themselves. That could be in terms of flavour, texture, sound – the whole multi-sensory experience.”
Typically, she says industry research around consumer insights or sensory experiences is done in a “clinical setting” but the “tasting environment is really important in terms of understanding what choices people make and what they expect the context of their choices to include as well. So that’s what we’re trying to do to at this Food Matters Live event. We can’t control everything, but one of our environments includes an outdoor BBQ setting, so in addition to the tastes, there will be smells, there might be some sounds, like kids running around or a sizzling grill. We’re trying to touch upon as many sensations as we can, with sessions taking place at three different types of environments throughout the day. People can pick and choose which one they want to attend, whatever makes sense for their brands or the type of category they’re in.”
Sweegen’s multi-sensory approach echoes the multifaceted stimulation that consumers are craving, evidenced by the popularity of on-trade bars, like The Alchemist, which is just as popular for its sense of theatre as it is for its cocktails. “I was at an event yesterday and one of the people I talked to was a mixologist,” says Dsouza. “And the products they were creating were not just flavours, and they were not just cocktails, they put an infusion of flavours together with a nitrogen bubble on top, which then burst, to allow the aromas to go up a person’s nose and spark their olfactory nerve. So, in that moment you got to experience so much more than what’s actually going on with just your taste buds.”
Today’s consumers are asking for a “lot more than just a flavour, especially when considering products that have a healthier product profile,” says Dsouza. Sweegen’s expertise is not only in product development and creation, but in deeply understanding how to create foods and beverages with the best health profile to serve a specific consumer need.
“If we really want to be a disruptor in this industry, if we want to understand both our client’s needs and their customer’s needs, we have got to show them that in a disruptive way. That’s why the environments we’re going to create at Tastes of Better are multi-sensory and very immersive. We will be transporting our guests into unique scenarios, to avoid having them experience our taste solutions or our sweetener systems in a vacuum, but rather in exciting settings that will spark all the senses. And we’re going to help them see how, depending on the specific immersive environment they choose, their food and beverage choices are affected, just like consumers choices are affected in the real world.”
Guests at the event will be sampling more than just Sweegen’s award-winning Signature Sweetener portfolio, including Sweegen’s complete Taste Solutions, which help brands reduce sugar while amplifying the entire taste experience. “We are one of the only companies with approval for highly-scalable, next-generation stevia sweeteners which provides for great options to reduce sugar in a very natural and sustainable way, but there’s so many other ways to deliver low calorie, low sugar, drink or food to people globally. So yes, there will be reduced-sugar foods at this event, but there will also be everyday foods and beverages that will have no sugar or sweeteners at all. We might even showcase some novel technologies that we’re bringing to the market that are very disruptive. And all of this is obviously rooted in biotech, so we will look at how biotechnology can help those sensory goals.”
Guests will also get to experience flavours from Sweegen’s sister company, Sensegen, a 100%-biotechnology-based solution provider dedicated to delivering plant-based, natural, and sustainable flavours and fragrances.
Sweegen works with food and beverage brands to create the right ingredients, products and sensory experiences that will resonate with consumers and help redefine the future of food and drink. Dsouza says Sweegen “love to call ourselves disruptors. We just won the Food Tech Innovation Award at Food Ingredients Europe for the novel bioconversion process for the production of our Bestevia® Reb M.“
Sweegen team members, also known as Taste Blazers, come from a very entrepreneurial mindset. “We love the work we’re doing, we love the technologies, but at Tastes of Better we’re really going to show how all of our work comes together to promote health and wellness, not just the technologies we can offer,” says Dsouza.
“All of us come from big ingredient companies, big corporate names. The fields we are in are not necessarily new, but we have the opportunity to be creative and innovative in our work at Sweegen to really change the sugar-reduction landscape with all of the brands we collaborate with. We get to do this really cool stuff that we didn’t get to do at the big corporations. So, we’re having a lot of fun, and we really want to share that and invite people to have fun with us!”