Natural Good Taste

8 Sep 2014

The flavours sector represents one of the largest within the global food additives market and the use of flavouring compounds is widespread as manufacturers continue to search for appealing new taste experiences. Sweet flavours, particularly those that are fruit-based, dominate the confectionery sector and an increasing focus on health is resulting in consumers moving away […]

Natural Good Taste

The flavours sector represents one of the largest within the global food additives market and the use of flavouring compounds is widespread as manufacturers continue to search for appealing new taste experiences.

Sweet flavours, particularly those that are fruit-based, dominate the confectionery sector and an increasing focus on health is resulting in consumers moving away from artificial food additives in favour of natural alternatives.

Flavouring ingredients present a number of challenges for manufacturers. These include: food safety and stability; taste, texture and appearance; label cleanliness and/or naturalness perception; shelf life performance and stability; functionality of the ingredient in use; ease of manufacturing of the product; cost of the ingredient.

The ease of formulating with natural ingredients varies depending on the functionality and application criteria. The key to applying natural ingredients is to compensate for any known stability issues through optimisation of the formulation, storage and environmental conditions. This requires knowledge of the key factors that affect chemical stability.

Although many consumers are receptive to experimenting with new flavours and tastes, traditional varieties account for the bulk of sales within the global sugar confectionery and chewing gum markets. Fruit flavours such as strawberry and orange make up a sizeable proportion of sales in sectors such as gums, jellies and boiled and chewy sweets, with exotic fruits (such as watermelon and mango) an increasingly significant feature of the market.

Flavour and/or taste also represent an important consumer driver within the global chocolate confectionery market. The use of artificial flavours in chocolate has declined and the number of new chocolate products featuring natural flavours has risen.

Many of the world’s leading food flavour companies have embraced the move towards natural flavours by carrying out research and introducing new flavour options. There are products available that can deliver authentic flavour, but it is better to use the real ingredient if possible. For example, if a strawberry flavour is required, then real strawberries should ideally be used, or at least a strawberry powder, rather than a strawberry flavour. And colouring a raspberry yogurt with beetroot juice may not be ideal as although beetroot juice may be considered a natural ingredient, it is probably not what consumers expect to see on the ingredients list.

It is often stated that consumers are not prepared to compromise when purchasing food. Quality is everything, as long as the price is right. However, research has shown that consumers are willing to accept a duller colour in food products if they know it contains natural rather than artificial colouring.

Flavouring agents are critical to enhancing the quality of food products. However, the trend towards natural ingredients and reformulation to replace artificial ingredients poses many challenges that need to be overcome in order to achieve success.

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