Taste panel TASTE PANEL: Consumers compare the taste of different products under special lights.

It’s our goal to bring consumers pleasure and convenience by understanding their unique needs and preferences. Pleasure includes the enjoyment derived from food before, during and after eating it. This includes the pleasure of anticipation, as well as sight, texture, taste, aroma and the feeling of satisfaction after eating. We study consumer interactions with and around food from all angles, ranging from what drives food choice in the supermarket, to the social aspects of eating, to perception via the five senses.

Local preferences such as taste vary enormously across the world and are important for us to understand. For some of our businesses, local brands are more important than global brands. 70% of our chocolate business comes from local brands, for instance.

However, managing multiple individual market-driven R&D projects is difficult, so we use technology platforms that can be deployed and adapted locally as required. So, in addition to our 40 R&D and Product Technology Centres across the world, we also have over 300 Application Groups. These Application Groups take products developed by the R&D and Product Technology Centres and adapt them to suit the preferences of the local market.

Taste preferences

We are aware that some consumers are concerned that processed foods, especially those relatively high in sugar, salt and/or fat, may cause addictive-like behaviour . Consequently, consumers sometimes loosely talk about being “addicted” to eating foods like chocolate, or ice-cream. The term “addiction” is also loosely used to describe other behaviours that consumers enjoy and/or invest time in - such as watching television, or spending time at work.

We are not aware of any conclusive science to show that the consumption of sugar, salt or fat cause abnormal behavioural or neurological responses in the general population. However, we believe that further research is still needed to understand the biology behind the loss of control over food intake and we are keeping abreast of the scientific findings in this area.