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Firmenich uses visually impaired sensory panelists to assess flavours and fragrance

By Lucy Whitehouse + , 26-Jul-2017

Firmenich uses visually impaired sensory panelists to assess flavours and fragrance

In a bid to for greater inclusion and diversity, flavour and fragrance player Firmenich has announced it will be rolling out its initiative of including visually-impaired people in its product testing.

The initiative started with two panel pilots of 20 people in both Mexico and the UK, which proved successful. As a result, Firmenich is rolling it out to further panels in Geneva, Mumbai and Singapore.

“As a family company, we are committed to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, to positively contribute to our customers, colleagues and communities,” said Gilbert Ghostine, CEO of Firmenich. “I am proud of our inclusive panels, as they harness visually impaired peoples’ acute sensory capabilities, while offering these talented individuals a path to financial independence and social recognition within their communities.”

Global panels

The company says it currently employees 100 sensory panelists around the world to assess its flavors and fragrances, 20% of whom are blind or visually impaired professionals. It notes that the participation of those with visual impairment is a sign of the efforts it makes in the area of fostering an inclusive company culture.

“Creating an inclusive culture takes both commitment and action. By working with local associations for the blind, we are strengthening our diversity and sharpening our capabilities, while creating sustainable job opportunities,” said Mieke Van de Capelle, Chief Human Resources Officer at Firmenich.

Adding something new

As is invariably the case with greater levels of any type of diversity, Firmenich notes that the inclusion of differently abled people in its panels gives obvious benefits.

"Blind and visually impaired panelists are a step ahead of those who can see," said David Lyon, Global Sensory Director for Perfumery and Flavors at Firmenich. “They often demonstrate an acute memory for flavors and odors, and their motivation to train as panelists, often results in them becoming highly proficient sensory professionals in a short timeframe.”

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