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Givaudan opens its first African Consumer & Sensory Insights Centre in Jo’burg

While Givaudan has five sales offices and three production sites sites in Africa, it recently opened the doors to its first Consumer & Sensory Insights Centre on the continent – and your editor was thrilled to be one of the media invitees to its new home at the Tulisa Park factory and campus in Jo’burg South.

There’s no bigger name in the flavours/fragrance arena and it was a wonderful opportunity to finally connect with several of the key people who caretake the South African business. I say ‘finally’ as in my two decades of reporting on the SA foodbev industry, Givaudan has, to my knowledge, been low key in the marketing/PR sense, despite its No 1 global spot on the flavour charts.

Editor Brenda Neall with Givaudan’s Mary-Anne Gardner, Commercial Director SA.

The SA food industry is gifted with an army of talented food scientists, innovators, marketers and administrators of female hue, and I was delighted to learn that Givaudan’s local head is a dynamic woman, Mary-Ann Gardner, with the title of Commercial Director, and key host for the occasion.

Givaudan has been operating in SA for some 70 years, but Gardner was ebullient over this new facility that is intended to bring Givaudan’s formidable consumer and sensory research capabilities closer to customers in Africa. And here’s why:

  • While consumer research answers to consumer preferences and their experience with the product, it is complemented by scientific sensory evaluation that understands in detail the product profiles and areas of improvement. “This is the ultimate aim of this centre”, noted Gardner.
  • This is achieved predominantly through science-based methodologies to profile ingredients/products (taste, flavours, texture, colour, etc) through an expert panelist assessment.
  • The centre features sensory labs which are optimised for descriptive and discrimination testing as well as consumer research.
  • It utilises special sensory software to run live data analysis while taste panelists feed in their evaluations.
  • The centre includes an area for sample preparation, fully equipped booths for product testing and a multi-purpose meeting area for sensory and consumer discussions.
  • This centre is designed in compliance to the global sensory standards and features state of the art equipment and software.
  • One key differentiator is Givaudan’s proprietary language, Sense It, a unique sensory language used to describe food and beverage product characteristics.
The Givaudan team doing the ribbon-cutting honours on the new centre (from left):
Naledi Botha – NPD (Beverages), Mary-Ann Gardner – Commercial Director SA, Dylan Hunter – Regional Marketing Manager, Taste & Wellbeing Marketing SSA, Antoine Khalil – Regional Head Taste & Wellbeing, South Asia, Middle East & Africa, Olga Bezukladova – Head of Regional Innovation, Naheel Abdelall – Head of SAMEA Communications, Taste & Wellbeing, Rafik Boshra – Consumer & Sensory Insights Director for Taste & Wellbeing.

Commenting on the launch, Antoine Khalil, SAMEA Commercial Head, Taste & Wellbeing, Givaudan, said, “It is an absolute thrill to open the Consumer & Sensory Insights Centre right here in Johannesburg.

“The food industry is facing profound disruption, driven by rapidly changing consumer and customer needs. Our newly-opened CSI centre will help us unlock local consumer insights and analyse technical sensory data to enhance our capabilities in creating food experiences that are loved by consumers.

“The centre aims to support our customers to co-create innovative products leveraging these unique insights and capabilities.”

Fully-equipped testing booths adjoin the multi-purpose meeting area for sensory and consumer discussions.

About Givaudan – a global giant

  • Givaudan is a world leader in creating game-changing innovations in food and beverage as well as inspiring creations in the world of scent and beauty.
  • Givaudan’s purpose lies in creating happier, healthier lives, with a love for nature.
  • Headquartered in Switzerland, Givaudan was established more than 250 years ago.
  • The business, which is worth CHF 42-billion, operates across 185 locations in 52 countries, employing over 16,800 people.
  • Givaudan’s business is split into two divisions – Taste & Wellbeing and Fragrance & Beauty.

About Givaudan – South Africa

  • Givaudan Taste & Wellbeing South Africa was established in 1956 and is based in Tulisa Park, Johannesburg.
  • The SA team consists of 220 people with experts in production, sales, R&D and food sciences servicing clients across 43 African countries.
  • The SA operations comprise of a sales and marketing division, R&D teams, production factory, compounding laboratories and the newly established Consumer and Sensory Insights Centre.
  • The site is home to three compounding laboratories covering the Sweet, Savoury and Beverages categories.
  • Givaudan operates one factory in South Africa – it produces both liquid and powder flavours.


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