Introducing FlavorSum Modulate: Flavor Masking Solutions for Functional Foods and Drinks

by | May 16, 2024

More than 1 in 4 of the foods and beverages launched in North America in the last year carried a functional claim. Products contain more protein, fiber, and calcium to support shoppers’ nutritional goals and less sugar and fat, the ingredients that people want to avoid. Desirable functional benefits now extend to enhancing health and wellness with constituents like pro-and pre-biotics, antioxidants, and adaptogens. Although people want more than basic nutrition from food and drink, their expectations that products will still be delicious aren’t dimming. For product developers, flavor masking solutions have become an essential component of their formulation process.

FlavorSum Modulate offers food and beverage formulators flavor masking solutions designed to address several challenges with functional ingredients. Our technical team outlines the role of flavors with modulating properties (FMPs) in product development and the formulation considerations when using them in functional foods and beverages.

The Composition of Food and Beverage Formulas

When creating a food or drink, developers are like the maestro of an orchestra. Navigating the composition of their next innovation requires precision, intuition, and skill to deliver a memorable experience.

COORDINATING INGREDIENTS

Formulators combine a diverse group of ingredients with unique characteristics and contributions to the final product. Flavor masking solutions play a role much like the flutes in an orchestra. FMPs, like flutes, blend easily with other ingredients and subtly enhance a taste profile without overpowering the flavor experience.

FINDING THE BALANCE

The maestro will balance the volume and intensity of instruments just as developers balance ingredients’ flavor, texture, and nutritional components to create a well-rounded taste. Masking flavors also help refine a food or beverage to improve the overall appeal and quality, much like a flute brings elegance to a musical performance.

PAYING ATTENTION TO DETAIL

Both the maestro and the formulator must pay meticulous attention to the details. For the conductor, every note or nuance of a musical piece matters. A food or beverage developer will carefully adjust ingredient ratios and processing methods to achieve the experiences promised by the product concept. Flavors with modulating properties give formulators a precise tool for masking undesirable notes and off-flavors, just as a flutist deftly delivers clear and defined support to a musical score.

SHOWCASING CREATIVITY

While food and beverage developers rely heavily on science for winning formulas, their creativity is essential when incorporating new or unproven functional ingredients. The formulator is much like a maestro composing a unique musical piece. The blending of science with artistry can delight people with an exceptional taste and the nutritional value they desire.

The Modifying Properties of Flavor Masking Solutions

FMPs are not an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution. Each flavor masker contributes a unique benefit to the final food or beverage formula. A flavor chemist will assess your product’s base and functional ingredients to identify the constituents contributing to off-notes. Then, using their knowledge of organic chemistry, they’ll create a flavor masking solution that blends with the food or drink ingredients and suppresses or blocks unwanted tastes.

MASKING PROTEIN

More people recognize that protein structures (enzymes) are key metabolic ingredients that support the body, and most understand protein’s role in satiety, muscle growth, and immunity. A “high or added protein” call-out ranked #6 among North American foods and beverages launched with functional claims in the last year.

Our 2024 Predictions Blog noted the expansion of protein ingredient sources beyond soy and whey for foods and beverages. Protein sources can impart different flavor notes that FMPs can tackle. For example, pea protein, an ingredient growing in popularity, has an earthy, grassy, and often bitter flavor. Whey protein isolates or hydrolysates are still mainstream, affordable sources that often carry malt notes that leave a bitter end taste.

OPTIMIZING SWEETNESS

With almost three in four Americans striving to reduce their sugar intake, food and beverage developers are exploring natural alternatives to sugar (sucrose). Sugar’s contribution to texture and viscosity is a challenge for formulators switching to sugar alternatives. But non-nutritive sweeteners such as stevia, monk fruit, or sugar alcohols have different time intensities that create additional complexity.

Flavor masking solutions can optimize the sweetness experience, flavor, and mouthfeel. FlavorSum Modulate offers FMPs for reduced or zero-sugar products that:

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Enable up to 25% sugar reduction with a natural flavor

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Improve the taste of natural and artificial non-caloric sweeteners

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Allow FEMA/GRAS labels as a natural flavor in North America and the EU

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Align with organic compliance

MASKING BITTERNESS

FMPs can also address bitterness in foods and drinks. Non-nutritive sweeteners like stevia or sucralose can have a bitter or metallic linger that flavors with modulating properties can minimize . Although interest in bitter-sweet alcoholic cocktails is on the rise, some formulators may want to reduce the bitterness of a flavored alcoholic beverage, and solutions are available to help. Functional ingredients like caffeine or specific grains like wheat or oats may also contain bitter notes that maskers can mitigate.

Questions To Consider When Exploring Flavor Masking

During discussions with your flavor supplier about formulation challenges you’re facing with functional ingredients or label claim goals, sharing the following information will provide flavorists with useful direction.

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What flavor profile do you want to deliver? Understanding your targeted experience with your food or beverage innovation will help identify undesirable notes to mask.

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What specific off-notes or characteristics do you want to mask? Your answer will guide the development or selection of appropriate solutions.

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Have you tried flavor masking solutions that fell short? Past experiences offer flavorists and application scientists valuable insights for the next steps.

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What are your label claim goals? If your food or beverage will be vegan, allergen-free, or have specific nutritional claims, the flavor chemist will identify options that align with your objectives.

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Do you have a targeted taste or texture? If your brand buyers expect a specific flavor profile or mouthfeel, your flavor supplier can choose or create FMPs that fulfill the desired sensory experience.

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What are your budgetary constraints? Balancing a flavor masking solution with your production costs is critical to making an economically practical product.

Partner with FlavorSum for Flavor Masking Solutions

Our certified flavorists understand the complexity associated with food and beverage product development. They’ll collaborate with our applications scientists and your team to evaluate your formula and create FMP solutions that align with your label goals and deliver your desired taste profile. FlavorSum Modulate can address challenges in various applications, including alcoholic beverages, nutrition and energy bars, protein and energy drinks, cultured dairy, plant-based dairy, and nutraceutical confections. Connect with us to discuss your flavor hurdles and potential flavor masking solutions.

Author

Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson, Director of Marketing at FlavorSum, brings more than 30 years of market and consumer research experience to support innovation activities for food and beverage organizations.

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