What Is a Natural WONF? Deciphering Flavor Labeling Acronyms

by | Mar 28, 2024

Every industry has a unique acronym-filled language, and the flavor labeling world is no exception. While finished food and beverage products use terms like natural or artificial to describe flavors, supplier labeling is highly regulated and precise.

FTNF and WONF flavors are two acronyms that show up fairly often in flavor labeling designations.

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FTNF stands for “From the Named Fruit.”

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WONF (pronounced wan-eff) stands for “With Other Natural Flavors.”

Knowing how flavors are labeled enables you to collaborate more effectively with your flavor supplier and develop on-trend products that fit your budget, meet label claim goals, and taste delicious!

Flavor Supplier Labeling Acronyms Explained

The FDA stringently regulates flavor labeling so food and beverage processors can understand the source(s) of the flavor’s ingredients. Here are the common terms you’ll find on labels from your flavor supplier.

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Natural or FTNF flavors only contain ingredients directly from the flavor source. Also known as single-source or true-to-fruit.

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Natural WONF flavors include ingredients from the named source alongside additional flavor notes from other natural sources.

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Natural type flavors use ingredients from natural sources to create a flavor profile that delivers an expected taste.

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Natural and artificial flavors rely on a combination of ingredients from the named natural sources and other substances that could include non-natural.

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Natural and artificial type flavors use a combination of natural and non-natural ingredients, but none from the named source.

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Artificial flavors deliver a familiar taste created with ingredients other than natural sources.

These definitions are extremely precise. If a flavor manufacturer offers a blood orange flavor as a “natural flavor,” it must be 100% sourced from blood oranges. A blood orange WONF flavor will have part of the flavor sourced from blood oranges but can also include other naturally derived flavors.

Labeling is much simpler on finished products. Whether you choose a natural flavor (FTNF), a natural WONF, or a natural type, your food or beverage ingredient statement can state “natural flavors.”

Our one-page guide to flavor labeling is available for download here.

How To Select the Right Type of Flavor for Your Food or Beverage

From a taste perspective, not many people will perceive differences across the range of flavor solutions. Your choice of natural or artificial flavors would impact the food or beverage’s nutritional value. In fact, according to Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist at Consumer Reports, “There’s no real difference between natural and artificial flavors in terms of nutrition. Both natural and artificial flavors are safe for most [people] to consume.”

Here’s how to weigh factors like flavor profile, ingredient availability, and budget to determine the type of flavor you choose.

  1. Determine your desired flavor profile. Fanciful or fantasy flavor profiles such as tutti frutti or cotton candy lack a named source in nature. While flavorists can create a natural type cotton candy flavor, you’ll need to decide if shoppers will expect to see ‘natural flavors’ on the ingredient declaration.
  2. Review ingredient sourcing and availability. What if you’re interested in a flavor that’s difficult to obtain or limited in availability in natural sources? A natural type or artificial flavor option would mimic the flavor by using approved flavor constituents without using the actual ingredient.
  3. Discuss needed flavor intensity with your flavor supplier. Some applications like baked goods need stronger flavor concentrations to deliver the right taste intensity after baking. Natural flavors from the named fruit (FTNF) tend to be weaker and have limited ingredients available for formulators. To get the right strength, your product may require a larger amount or higher concentration of flavor. It’s important to note that increasing the amount of liquid flavor may affect the proportion of wet-to-dry ingredients. Higher concentrations of flavor can also cost more. Another option such as a Natural WONF flavor can provide a more intense and cost-effective alternative.
  4. Set regulatory goals. Some new products are designed for a niche market or to make specific claim such as allergen-free. With a natural type flavor, a product could feature a peanut taste without the added regulatory and quality steps created by a peanut-derived ingredient in your facility.
  5. Review your budget. In general, natural flavors cost more than other options, with prices dropping as you move down our graph from natural to artificial. If your brand positioning requires a cleaner label, FlavorSum can deliver affordable, on-trend, delicious natural flavors by using advances in technology and smart sourcing.

Meeting Expectations About Labeling Transparency With Natural WONF Flavors

While selecting the right flavor offering will depend heavily on your formulating, budgetary, and manufacturing needs, it’s also crucial to consider your brand buyers and their unique preferences. Natural WONF flavors can help you meet label claim goals because they qualify as a natural flavor and are more cost-effective than a natural or FTNF flavor.

For some people, the word artificial raises concerns even though artificial ingredients often mimic the composition of their natural counterparts. The percentage of North American food and beverages launched with a “free-from artificial flavoring” claim has not changed significantly over the past few years, even slightly decreasing from 2023 to 2024.

Although total launch activity with free-from added or artificial flavor claims has slowed, a few key categories have more innovation around the flavor claim in the last 52 weeks.

Foods and Beverages Where “Free From Added /Artificial Flavors” Claims Expanded

North America – 52 Weeks Ending February 2024   

Category % change in the number of launches
Juice +70.0%
Fruit Spreads +58.3%
Coffee +50.0%
Chocolate Pieces +33.3%
 RTE Cereals +30.8%
 Prepared Meals +28.4%
Cooking Sauces +24.2%
 Dairy Ice Cream +17.8%
Cakes, Pastries +17.7%
Sports Drinks +16.7%
 Cookies +13.8%
 Fruit Snacks +8.9%
Snack Mixes +6.7%
 Baking Mixes +5.9%

As you consider flavor solutions for your next launch, remember that people are looking for signs of genuineness in grocery aisles. Shoppers are wary of misleading labels and look for fact-based ingredient insights and a list of easy-to-pronounce ingredients.

Tastewise, a social listening platform, reports that discussion of natural flavors has grown 21.7% over the past year. Additionally, “artificial flavor” has grown 4.0% in social discussion, and “no artificial flavor” has grown 0.7%. Certain experiences linked with “no artificial flavors” have increased, suggesting people associate natural flavors with being healthier and more authentic.

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Authentic +97.4%

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Artisan +46.6%

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Nourishing +33.7%

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Premium +17.4%

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Satisfying +4.5%

Connect With FlavorSum About Your Next WONF Flavor

Finding the right flavor solution for your food or beverage innovation gets easier when you partner with FlavorSum. Our flavorists and applications experts can help you develop delicious results that fit your budget, meet label claim goals, and deliver tastes people crave!

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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