Flavors are pulling double duty at IFT 2019, offering functional benefits and reducing costs

June 14, 2019

The right ingredients can not only provide superior flavor, but also functional benefits as well as improve batch consistency, reducing manufacturing costs. 

Flavor is a fundamental component for the success of any food or beverage product. The challenge is creating palatable products that are also natural and clean label without incurring heavy costs. Ingredient suppliers are therefore finding ways to ease manufacturing challenges, and reduce costs for customers while also allowing them to meet consumer demands.

For example, Synergy Flavors Inc. (Wauconda, IL) showcased its new hops essences, which target the beer brewing industry, and helps with the dry hopping process. In this process, brewers add hops to the beer once it has been brewed prior to bottling in order to create more hops aroma to the end product. The hops essences can be used to bolster this process, reducing the cost of hops, without having to alter the label.

Beyond beer, however, because they’re just hops aromas and water, and come in five different hops flavor profiles, the essences can be utilized in a range of beverages to offer a unique, refreshing flavor profile. Synergy’s entire line of concentrates and essences can be used to fortify the flavor profile of foods and beverages while reducing costs. For example, concentrates are less expensive to ship because they contain less water. 

Flavors with nutritional benefits are another way to add value. Functional food and beverage launches are only increasing, and offering flavor with function can be a definite advantage. Florida Food Products (Eustis, FL) showcased its fermented beet ingredient, available in powder and liquid form, which is sourced from beets that have a baseline nitrate content of 18,000 ppm, and then fermented with lactic acid.

“What’s interesting about that process is that it softens the earthiness of the beet – which is polarizing to some people – to create a fresh, kind of fruitiness because you are lowering the pH, and when you’re fermenting, the organisms are actually consuming sugar for the metabolism to generate the lactic acid, so we have the ability to reduce the sugar in the juice,” explained Christopher Naese, vice president of business development for the firm. The standardized nitrate content, which is not lost in fermentation, allows the firm to make nutritional claims that target the pre-workout sports nutrition market, and the enhanced palatability from the fermentation process makes the ingredient that much more versatile.

“One path is toward the health and wellness industry, that would be the fact that you’ve got the nitrates at a level that’s measurable, and, to boot, it’s reduced sugar,” explained Naese. “To the other parts of the food world, the flavor industry looks at these as a flavor building block. The flavor industry is under a lot of pressure not to use chemicals, even natural chemicals, and then to the beverage industry who just wants to have healthy beverages, a bit of the halo around fermented, and the taste appeal. So, it’s a three-pronged approach.”

Other ingredients in Florida Food Products line of fermented vegetables include carrot, onion, and mushroom, which are positioned more toward flavoring. The company is also releasing a fermented celery ingredient.

A big part of using functional flavor ingredients is about consistency in flavor, particularly when scaling up the production of one’s product. Applied Food Sciences (Austin, TX), for example, supplies functional ginger (Purginger) and turmeric (Purturmeric) flavors that are organic and have standardized levels of gingerols and curcuminoids, respectively, while stripping out the insoluble content from notoriously insoluble ingredients to create seamless, soluble ingredients that can be incorporated into beverages. This has a lot of advantages for manufacturers, because they can fortify their natural products with this natural ingredient without losing quality and maintaining consistency throughout their batches.

“If you’re trying to make the same product and pressing your own ginger, or using a ginger juice, batch to batch, you’re going to get different results. So, when companies that are using real ginger-whether it’s for kombucha, or ginger beer or ginger ale-want to go to scale, they need something to help build that consistency,” explained Brian Zapp, director of marketing for Applied Food Sciences. “The largest companies are beginning to use 60% less juice and supplementing that with our extract, and they’re able to cut down their margins, and it’s tremendously successful.”

Speaking of kombucha, BI Nutraceuticals (Sparks, NV) supplies organic kombucha powder extract that supports kombucha manufacturers in this same way. “It’s one thing to be in a regional producer, doing 500 bottles a day, but to get up to 50,000-60,000, you really have to have a formula that’s relatively stable,” said George Pontiakos, president and CEO of BI Nutraceuticals. “We haven’t really seen that consistency yet, and that’s why the powder is a great solution. If you have a profile that you like, just put the powder in, and you have all the benefits of kombucha in a taste profile that you can be satisfied with.”