The inclination towards healthier products and sustainable production methods has presented the food industry - and particularly ingredients firms - with a whole set of challenges. Cutting back on elements considered unhealthy in large doses, like sugar, salt and saturated fat, can also mean cutting back on taste. And market research and experience has shown that good taste must go hand in hand with health. Consumers are unwilling to compromise, and one without the other is a recipe for repeat sale disaster. Chr Hansen's two new cultures, dubbed BactoFlavor BFL-F02 and BFL-F05, are intended for use in the fermentation process to deliver flavour at opposite ends of the spectrum: the former is mild and creamy and the latter strong and intense. The company says it has built up a good knowledge of how different bacteria act in different application environments. "We also know how to use this knowledge to identify new strains which can, even under the harshest conditions, provide the optimum flavour development and at the same time deliver fast and reliable fermentation," said Eva Stenby, marketing manager for meat cultures. The process involved sorting through some 12,000 culture strains using chemical analysis, to identify those with suitable characteristics. A short list of nine was drawn up, and this was then narrowed down to the chosen two by the company's sensory experts and an 11-strong consumer panel. Stenby said the cultures were previously unknown. The exercise was focused on catering to the taste preferences of European consumers - and for these two, Europe will be the main market. But Chr Hansen plans to revert to its culture store and repeat the process using taste panels drawn from South and North American consumers, so as to come up with parallel ingredients for their preferences.