Chr Hansen will send a team of employees through nine Eastern European countries, including Ukraine, Romania and Croatia, using a 50 square metre mobile show room to visit local universities and entice potential customers. The 'Magical Sensory Tour' will begin in Prague on 10th March and finish in Poland on 19th April.
"The show room will contain the ingredients necessary to create an experience for all senses. Here you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste everything related to the food- and beverage industries," said Jan Boeg Hansen, company vice president.
He believes this interactive approach will work well in a market that is shifting emphasis from the physical development of new products to the creation of new sensory concepts; where new flavour variations in existing products are becoming essential for maintaining sales in an increasingly competitive market.
And Eastern Europe, along with Africa and the Middle East, holds the best market potential for flavour producers, according to a recent market report from the UK's IAL Consultants.
The report says strong growth can be expected in many parts of Eastern Europe. Soft drinks based on fruit juices, for example, are a relatively new innovation while functional foods and drinks continue to draw interest. Strong demand for canned foods - which tend to contain more flavours - is likely to continue in some less developed regions of Eastern Europe that have yet to see a strong infrastructure for fresh food supplies.
Chr Hansen wants to take advantage of this by learning more about 'local' taste preferences. "By going on a tour, we will be able to learn a lot about specific niche markets. It will also give us the opportunity to get in contact with more people from within our customer organisation," said Boeg Hansen.
Eastern Europe could also help Chr Hansen to improve margins in Europe after the company last week reported strong pressure on prices in the rennet market that were eating into revenues. And with the sale of Chr Hansen's ingredients unit still on the cards, a greater presence in the emerging Eastern European sector would clearly be an attractive proposition for potential buyers.
For more details about Chr Hansen's sensory tour click here