Can you taste sunshine?

Clients often challenge us to make their products deliver more “freshness”.

This can’t just be done by adding a ‘twist of citrus’, it needs a more subtle approach – because freshness is precious as sunshine…

Seville is famous for two things – it is the sunniest city in Europe and it is also the home of a type of orange that is uniquely suited to marmalade production – the Seville Orange – and they literally ‘grow on the trees’ in public squares, gardens and around the city. So, is there a link between these two facts?

The answer is yes! That link is the unique power and attractiveness of ‘freshness’ and vitality – generated, at its heart, by the sun. Quite literally, Seville oranges taste of sunshine!

After all, the attraction of marmalade is that it is bottled sunshine. Consider the vitality and tension that lies at the heart of marmalade – the interplay and contrast between the acidic tanginess of the fruit and the rich, dense, sustained sweetness which then clears as it passes.

It is this tension that lies at the heart of delivering the sensation of freshness. It is the contrast between energised and laziness – the quintessential yin and yang of sunshine – at once both dynamic, life affirming and also soporific, relaxing and comforting.

Freshness is always about having a brief level of energising stimulation – literally and metaphorically a ‘burst’ – yet it needs its counterpoint to maximise the contrast (and so the perceived freshness). This contrast will always be transitory – the result of ‘staling’ in the product – and it is this fleeting moment of maximum freshness that many clients seek to enhance and extend.

You didn’t know we could do tasting notes for bread…

To feel fresh a product or experience somehow has to connect with the life-providing energy of the sun – this is true wherever we consider freshness in food and drink. Consider another simple but powerful example – look at a fresh
slice of bread – straight from the oven…

There is the rich dense taste of the staple food notes of wheat – the sense of tasting the earth’s goodness. This is offset by the hauntingly brief but desirable brightness in the yeast-driven notes that pass swiftly. A knob of butter simply emphasises these elements – the initial bite of the lactic acid set against the rich, rounded and lengthy sustain of the dairy fat notes and the sweet vanilla echo at the finish (hungry yet?!)

The bi-modality of the simple fresh bread delivery is reinforced and enhanced by the similar dual impact of the butter – reinforcing the sense of contrasts, of phases passing, of nature’s bounty – and freshness. Again, it is the contrast that provides the sense of maximum freshness and all that evokes in the experience – in this case allied with a textural breakdown that is crumbly and spongy, light and melting in its engagement. It is this tension between density and substance set against brevity and vibrancy which maximises the sense of freshness.

When this contrast fades – and the flavour delivery becomes more homogeneous through the consumption – then the product has ‘staled’ and lost some of its vitality and freshness. Again, this sense of staling is reinforced by the effort the texture may now require – a positive chew effort is now perhaps needed – energy draining rather than the positive energising dissolve of really fresh bread.

Clients often challenge us to make their products deliver more freshness. It is never good enough to ‘add a burst of acid’ to deliver freshness. Chefs sometimes seek to revive flagging food by giving a quick squeeze of fresh lemon or lime – driven in large part by the Seville / citrus story of freshness where we began.

Instead, we usually need to be both more subtle and more attuned to the vagaries and phases within different products. Sometimes we can be counter-intuitive and increase perceived freshness by increasing the contrasts – and sometimes this can be achieved by increasing the rich, dense and heavy notes. We did just that on a water project in China – another tale entirely!

Ultimately though the point remains that it is the contrast that really matters – and culturally we can see different counterpoints which work best – so this is market and consumer specific as well as relating somewhat to the human condition.

Whatever the resolution – except for the finest claret – you can almost never have too much freshness in food and drink! We need to be more subtle – and dial up the inherent contrasts, looking at the sustain as well as the clear to ensure we have fresh not just on day 1 of life but right through…

So, to understand how to deliver freshness we need to go back to the source – and find how we can capture, bottle and own the taste of the sun. A trip to Seville anyone?

Our Sensory Space research methodology and technology deliver insights for our clients across their (and their competitors’) marketing mix. We have helped clients with product development (such as adding extra and extended freshness) and used the insights to express this through their communications, connecting them with their audiences in a truly insightful and compelling way. The result – more sales. Simply put we help brands make more money.

To find out more about how we can help your business, why not give our team a call on +44 (0) 1133 365 365 or email us on