James Smith, Chairman of the UK Flavour Association, provides an overview of the European Flavour Association’s General Assembly, which took place last week.
 
As the new Chairman of the UK Flavour Association, it is customary to attend the European Flavour Association’s (EFFA) General Assembly and given this year it was in the lovely location of Grasse, Southern France, I was more than happy to take up this invite. You can’t escape the B word at the moment, and with the newspapers full of the recent EU summit over Brexit, I was prepared for some heated discussions over the course of the meeting.
 
The meeting followed the usual format with annual reports from all the key parts of the European Association’s secretariat, technical and  communications groups. The area that impressed me the most was the great work the Association has done in the year to enhance communication. Not just with members, but also wider stakeholders, like the EU commission and regulatory bodies, as well as end users of our products.
 
EFFA also premiered the new ‘Flavour v Flavourings’ video to try and demystify the industry and it wasn’t until follow up discussions after the meeting that we could see just how hard these initiatives are to drive through to completion. The result is highly informative and should deliver on the goals of the project. The animation will be revealed in the next few months, so make sure that you’re following EFFA on LinkedIn or Twitter.
 
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The afternoon session was another one of the successful Flavour Days that EFFA has run this year. The Grasse Flavour day was focused on sustainability in the flavour industry and had some very interesting talks from MEP Julie Gurling and Director of Circular Economy at the European Commission, Kestutis Sadauskas.
 
The President of the Association, Antoine Kastler, started by explaining that the practice of sustainability has been in the flavour industry from the beginning and the topic is something flavourists and perfumers understand is crucial to the longevity of their trade. However, consumers are increasingly knowledgeable these days and are looking for greater transparency – so how do we provide this without releasing intellectual property? Building trust is key, and I’m sure we’ll continue to work together to tackle this challenge.
 
Finally, Lu Anne Williams from Innova shared the trends and insights around sustainability for consumers. It mirrored what we are all seeing and doing ourselves as consumers – we are checking labels and reading more opinions than ever and, as a result, are more wary of what we consume. The opportunity is there for natural flavours and those that are made sustainably will gain greater interest. However ,will the consumer pay more and have less availability of their favorite products as a result? Not likely, and herein lies the challenge.
 
All in all, it was a fantastic meeting and great to be able to participate in these sessions discussing the future of our industry.