Bakery Emulsions: A Masterful Ingredient for Formulation Success

by | Jun 6, 2024

Bakery emulsions are often the unsung heroes for formulators who strive to create cookies, donuts, cakes, and snack bars where every bite is a harmonious blend of flavors. What can connect ingredients into perfect unity? The bakery emulsion acts like a master magician, delivering a culinary delight of taste and texture. We’ve talked with our flavorists and applications experts to gather insights about bakery emulsions and share how the flavor system supports baked goods development.

Exploring Bakery Emulsions

Here are a few fundamentals to help you decide whether bakery emulsions align with your development goals.

WHAT IS A BAKERY EMULSION?

An emulsion is an immiscible flavor system of an oil and water phase (not forming a homogenous mixture when added together). Flavor suppliers disperse the oil phase within the water phase in the presence of an emulsifier that breaks down the oil into small particles to get the liquids to combine homogenously. Flavor chemists creating bakery emulsions often have an end-use goal of transforming an oil-soluble flavor solution into a water-soluble solution. Flavor houses like FlavorSum achieve this goal by microencapsulating the flavor in stabilizers (the emulsifier mentioned above) and then suspending those microparticles in water. Bakery emulsions are different from other emulsions, such as beverage ones, because they are more like a suspension than a true emulsion. In a true emulsion, weighing agents are used to get the solution’s density as close to water as possible, and then gums and mechanical tools are used to create a strong and lasting bond. Since the bond in a bakery emulsion is more like a suspension, these solutions aren’t appropriate for a fully liquid product because they will separate quickly.

WHEN SHOULD YOU USE A BAKERY EMULSION?

Bakery product manufacturers have several reasons for selecting an emulsion for their formula. Cost-effectiveness. Oil-based ingredients can be costly. In a bakery emulsion, flavor creators strive to reduce the volume of oil-based ingredients. Product developers often choose bakery emulsions to execute their formulation without taste compromise. Performance. Though bakery emulsions are less stable than true emulsions, their unique suspension capabilities enable them to perform well in many bakery segments because they are part of a more viscous solution. Formulators might also consider a bakery emulsion if they’re concerned about the possibility of the flavor baking out of a recipe. Bakery emulsions are heat-stable, so they tend not to evaporate or degrade like traditional flavors, producing more potent aromas and tastes. Bakery emulsions are often much stronger than extracts and are a good solution for formulators who want to maintain flavor strength while reducing costs. Versatility. These types of emulsions are also successful in products like ice cream and certain confections because of the viscosity of the base and finished good.

WHAT INITIAL QUESTIONS WILL A FLAVOR PARTNER ASK A BAKERY FORMULATOR?

Before discussing your next bakery innovation with a flavor supplier, get internal alignment about the questions below. Confirming the details will allow your flavor house to identify whether a bakery emulsion or another solution will make the most sense for your formulation.

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Do you prefer an oil- or water-soluble solution?
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What is your cost target?
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What is your targeted volume?
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How are you adding the flavor ingredient to the product?

HOW ARE BAKERY EMULSIONS LABELED?

Flavor solutions may contain different compounds beyond the flavoring agent, but labeling regulations require producers to only note the presence of a natural or artificial flavor, depending on the type. Bakery emulsions are subject to different requirements because they leverage those emulsification ingredients (like gums or modified food starch). The developer must label the flavor and emulsification ingredient in a bakery emulsion. Because the water content is much higher in a bakery emulsion than other flavor solutions, preservatives (like potassium sorbate or sodium citrate) are needed and must show on the label. Additionally, flavor suppliers often incorporate acidic ingredients (like citric acid) in bakery emulsions to keep the pH low and provide additional preservation. Bakery product manufacturers must also include any acidic ingredients on the label.

What’s Happening With Sweet Bakery Innovation?

North American launches of sweet bakery products, including cookies, cakes, pies, and other sweet baked goods, increased 9.5% in the 52 weeks ending May 2024. The category appeals to shoppers who want simple pleasures, little treats, or artisan experiences. As brands shift formulas to align with wellness goals, people have more bakery options that taste good and deliver the lower sugar, higher fiber, or more protein they desire. Many bakery formats offer developers versatile platforms for flavor innovation, giving people avenues to personalize their exploration of new tastes, comforting flavors, or full-on indulgence.

FLAVOR INNOVATION ON THE RISE WITH FAVORITES COMBINED IN NEW WAYS

FlavorSum’s recent research with bakery buyers shows familiar flavors often drive purchase decisions, with younger generations more likely to explore new tastes. Mintel reports the cookie segment is active with flavor innovation as North American cookie brands launched 20% more flavor combinations, often two well-known tastes, in the last year. Other sweet baked goods are also investing in new flavors, with varieties up by 3%.

LEADING FLAVORS IN NORTH AMERICAN SWEET BAKED GOODS

Over the last five years (2019-2024), the flavors featured in North American sweet baked goods launches have centered on tradition. The top 12 cookie flavors include the following:

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Chocolate
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Vanilla
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Sugar
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Dark Chocolate
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Milk Chocolate
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Shortbread
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Lemon
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Peanut Butter
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Almond
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Coconut
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Butter
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Strawberry
Milk chocolate, shortbread, peanut butter, almond, and coconut flavor show growth year-over-year. Novel flavor combinations showcased in 2024 cookie launches include:
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Chocolate & Pretzel
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Chocolate & Banana Bread
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Macadamia & Shortbread & Toffee
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Grape & PB&J/Peanut Butter & Jelly
The top 12 flavors of sweet baked goods introduced in North America are:
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Chocolate
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Blueberry
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Vanilla
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Brownie
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Cinnamon
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Strawberry
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Lemon
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Chocolate & Brownie
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Apple
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Birthday Cake
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Berry
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Sugar
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Chocolate & Hazelnut
Most top flavors featured in more launches in the past 52 weeks. New flavors or combinations available in 2024 (but not the prior 4 years) are:
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Almond & Stollen Cake
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Apple & Cinnamon & Sugar
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Baklava
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Banana Bread
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Cinnamon & Pecan
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Cocoa & Hazelnut
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Dulce de Leche
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Maple (Syrup)
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Marzipan
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Peanut Butter & Strawberry
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Sugar & Marble Cake
And many of the leading bakery flavors are available in bakery emulsions. Your flavor partner can provide additional guidance about the solution that fits your budget and processing methods.

Craft Your Next Bakery Innovation With a Solutions Partner

Need support on your bakery innovation journey to success? Leverage our flavor and applications expertise by partnering with us on your next delicious innovation! Our flavor experts can help you navigate development hurdles and speed up the time to market. We’re here to make your ideas become a reality. Connect with our team to learn more!

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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