Supermarket Bakery Smells

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Do supermarkets inject an artificial odour of baking bread into their air-conditioning systems, to give customers the impression of shopping in a real bakery?

No, apparently. `Fragrance delivery systems' which can perfume a large volume of air with an artificial scent do exist; there's a brief description of various technologies in this paper (text version). There are some interesting examples described in this report of a presentation to the British Society of Perfumers:

Cinemas, for example, are using these systems to fragrance their reception areas with popcorn smells. It is generally true that everyone who goes into a cinema will buy a ticket. However, once they are in there, tempting them to buy refreshments and popcorn will produce an increase in takings, thus reducing the need to put up ticket prices to increase profits.


Another example Simon spoke about was a brief his company had answered for Nestle. They were presenting Nescafé coffee in a large auditorium, and, on cue, the air space was filled with a coffee aroma in less than ten seconds! At this point, I was very intrigued as to the technology used to achieve this, and made a mental note to ask the question at the end of the talk. However, Simon went on to demonstrate -- he produced a canister, similar in size and appearance to a small fire extinguisher, and apparently, several of these used at strategic points in the auditorium can be used to fragrance the entire area in seconds.

-- but, according to the man from Marketing Aromatics (no web site, apparently), this is not typically used in supermarkets. Instead, the air-conditioning system is used to recirculate air from the bakery into the shopping aisles (and extract air from around the fishmonger's counter).

Contrast this with the situation in packaged food where, for instance, the smell of coffee is added to instant coffee in order to make it more appealing to shoppers. More in this article from the Christian Science Monitor.

Copyright (c) 2003 Chris Lightfoot. All rights reserved.