Your Game Plan for Finding & Using Certified Organic Flavors

by | Feb 22, 2021

2020 was a banner year for organic food and beverage launches in North America. Sales data from the Organic Trade Association show 8% growth in organic sales in Canada and 14% in the U.S. New product launches are also on the rise. According to Mintel, organic launches have reached a 9% compound annual growth rate over the past decade. In 2020, organic launches accounted for 24.8% of total launches in North America. 

But getting new organic products to market is often a complex, challenging process.

Whether it’s outpacing competitors, sourcing organic ingredients, navigating regulatory requirements, or formulating delicious results—navigating to a successful product launch can sometimes feel like an obstacle course.

With support from our regulatory experts and flavor creators, we’ve put together a game plan to help you find and use certified organic flavors. These tactics will help you master the obstacles standing between you and a successful organic product launch.

1. Study the Course

Begin the concept development phase for your organic food or beverage by examining the course and the other players in the field. Use consumer insights, market information, and team expertise to plot the best way through to launch.

Possible Challenges

  • Constantly one step behind competitors
  • Finding a suitable form and flavor


Review Launch Data to Inform Your Next Product. A new product analysis is an excellent tool for mapping your way to growth with organic food and beverages. For example, in 2020, 80% of organic food and beverage launches fell into about twelve different product categories. You can focus on adding variety to the leading categories or breakout from the crowd and offer organic options in a new category.

Study the Nuances in Your Geographical Market. While launch activity is similar across the U.S. and Canada, there are a few notable differences. Organic snacks got more attention in the U.S., specifically within the snack/cereal/energy bar subcategory, which saw launches up by 18%. In Canada, nutritional drinks saw more launches than the U.S., with significantly more kombucha products hitting the shelves.

Look for Popular Flavors and Emerging Flavors. Dig deeper within relevant categories to understand popular flavor profiles and trends. For example, within the snack/cereal/energy bar segment, sweet, indulgent flavors top out the leaderboard. Variations of chocolate, either alone or upscaled with other flavors, represent half of the flavor profiles and almost one-quarter of total launches.

Examining emerging flavors in 2020 will also yield insight. Within snack bars, new tastes featured a more complex flavor profile and functional ingredients like almond butter, flax, and hemp.

Tap Insights from Flavor Houses. Your flavor provider may have valuable perspectives about the current organic food and beverage market, popular flavor combinations, and recommendations for usage rates.

Consult Your Network for New Ideas. Talk with sales, marketing, and product development teams to see what they’ve explored. Pay close attention to customer inquiries about new flavors and reach out to suppliers to see if new products are available that you haven’t heard about yet.

2. Know the Rules of Engagement

Once you’ve studied the course, it’s time to work with your regulatory team (or your ingredient partner) to understand organic products’ requirements.

Possible Challenges

Sourcing Certified Organic Flavors. In 2019, the National Organic Program (NOP) finalized a ruling requiring U.S. manufacturers to use certified organic flavors in their organic products wherever available. Using non-organic flavors is possible but is a much more complex process that requires searching and testing to prove an organic option is not commercially available.

Navigating Regulatory Requirements. A flavor claiming to be organic must meet the same criteria of the end-product’s organic standard. This means at least 95% of flavoring ingredients must be organic, and no more than 5% may be from non-organic sources. Certification is required before you can label a product as “100% Organic”, “Organic,” or “Made with Organic” (U.S.) or as “Organic” or “Contains xx% Organic Ingredients” (Canada).


Regulatory Resources

Certification Resources

3. Get the Right Gear

After studying the course and learning the rules of engagement, you can equip yourself with the right gear. Finding ingredient sources and suppliers who’ve done the legwork will help smooth the way to an efficient organic product launch.

Possible Challenges

Sourcing a Certified Organic Flavor to Replace a Natural Flavor. In the U.S., you have few options for replacing a natural flavor with an organic one. You can:

  • Search for an already certified organic flavor that will perform well in your product. According to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), approximately 50 suppliers offer more than 4,500 certified organic flavors.
  • Work with a flavor house to convert your natural flavor into an organic one. Build time into your development schedule to certify the new flavor as organic and rigorously test to ensure your product will deliver delicious results.
  • File a non-availability claim if a certified organic flavor isn’t commercially available. The NOP outlines three circumstances for filing a non-availability claim: supply chain instability, flavor quality falling below expectations, and available form not being appropriate for your application. Each circumstance requires significant documentation and evidence to support your claims.

Formulation Challenges. Solvents used in organic flavors may sometimes affect flavor intensity and stability. Collaborate with your flavor provider for guidance about adjusting base ingredients to boost the intensity, changing the usage rate, or adding the flavor later in the manufacturing process.


Work with the Experts at Your Flavor House. When selecting a certified organic flavor manufacturer, look for flavor partners that offer:

  • Accurate documentation that includes evidence of the flavor’s composition, identity purity, and strength of flavor ingredients. Check with your organic certifier to get a complete list of required documentation.
  • Information about their supply chain for ingredients used in organic flavors. To help you meet production timelines, look for a vendor with supply chain stability and the expertise to handle logistics (and paperwork) for any ingredient substitutions.
  • R&D capabilities and organic ingredient suppliers who can customize flavors to meet your regulatory requirements.

Navigate Your Way to a Fast Finish

At National Flavors, we challenge the status quo by making flavor sourcing more efficient, effective, and enjoyable. Our expanding portfolio of certified organic flavors will help you keep pace with growing demand while delivering the delicious results your customers expect.

We created Flavorush to get you the flavor samples you need to keep your organic product launch on schedule. We ship samples within 24 hours, and all technical documents are immediately available for download.

Our team of flavor scientists and regulatory experts is always ready to help solve your specific challenges. We’re here to make sourcing organic flavors more efficient and help get your delicious products to market faster.

Create a free Flavorush account today or download our e-book on How to Effectively Source and Use Organic Flavors.

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