Recent years have witnessed a growing demand for natural ingredients and products, and central to that demand has been an increase in demand for natural flavouring ingredients for foods.
Despite the market for these ingredients growing significantly in recent years, there are still a number of challenges that need to be addressed, warns flavour and formulation expert Lindsey Bagley.
FoodNavigator caught up with Bagley at the recent Fi Europe 2013 conference and expo in Frankfurt, where she explained that switching to natural ingredients can cost - with some manufacturers having to spend up to ten times more for a natural flavouring solution,.
“Manufacturers are best advised to look at their products in total, to try and minimise the impact of that by maximising the value of those key ingredients,” said Bagley, who is editor of Flavour Horizons and a partner at Eureka.
“Looking at basic components in a food product, such as combinations of different sweeteners … looking at combinations of different acids.”
A limited palette?
The flavour expert commented that one of the major problems with natural flavours currently is that the EU definition of ‘natural’ means that current technology can only provide a small number of flavours for manufacturers to use.
“The flavour manufacturers have a small number of ingredients to play with,” said Bagley
“I liken it to an artist’s palette, so with artificial or synthetic flavours we used to have all the colours of the rainbow,” she explained. “Now we’re not quite confined to different shades of grey, but we have much less scope for formulating.”
Bagley added that there are ‘serious technical challenges’ to getting the quality of natural ingredients right. She noted that while natural variation of flavour due to climate or growing environment is considered to be normal and even boasted about, with wines – this is not the case when it comes to natural flavours.
“What consumers want in consumer goods, of course, is a consistent product at the end of the day.”