The company said the aim was to create a range that could improve the taste of soya, acting on the most unpalatable notes, without deleting its desirable taste characteristics, such as its astringency. Stefania Rivetti, from Mastertaste, said: "It is relatively easy to mask soya with chocolate or vanilla flavours, which is what many products on the market feature, but it is more difficult to lessen or reduce the less palatable notes without impacting too deeply on the soya distinctive profile." The manufacturers have developed various flavours, from mild taste enhancers, for hardened soya lovers, to stronger maskers, suited to consumers who prefer the flavour profile of traditional cow's milk. Mastertaste identified distinctive notes through various extraction technologies and then through GC-MS and GC sniffing. They concluded that most of the negative flavour aspects in soya may be associated with oxidative and degenerative processes during manufacturing and ageing. The company has worked on flavour compounding to create a range of products to address the different issues. The flavours can be used in all sweet soya-based applications, from soya beverages to ice creams. They come in liquid and capsule form and can be used in soy protein concentrates and isolate formulated beverages and desserts, as well as those prepared from whole soya beans. They can be used on their own or as building blocks included in broader flavouring systems to improve the overall taste. Mastertaste has been working on flavour systems for soya applications for two years in association with its parent company, the Kerry Group Plc. A consumer analysis, carried out by Fidelma Crowe, sensory manager at Mastertaste UK, highlighted the key taste issues driving consumers away from soya. These were sweetness, aftertaste and a lack of similarity to traditional cow's milk. The company's researchers used this to formulate its new flavours. Rivetti said: "Traditionally cow's milk is consumed with cereals or to whiten coffee of tea. If soya manufacturers wish to win the market share from traditional cow's milk, they would need to offer a valid alternative to this common use, reducing sweetness and adding creaminess and 'milkyness' without too definite a vanilla profile. We feel we could help manufacturers work in this direction." Mastertaste told FoodNavigator.com that it has focused its development activities on the growing trend for natural and organic products. Andrea Cavallero, soya flavour specialist at Mastertaste in Turin, said: "Mastertaste has further enriched the available range of soya flavour systems with a broad array of natural solutions to fit the growing health and wellness sector." Soya is a source of vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E as well as minerals. It contains isoflavones, which have some cancer-preventing qualities. Scientific research linking soya consumption to low cholesterol and lower incidence of osteoporosis has further increased consumer demand. Volumes of soya beverages consumed in North America, Western Europe and Japan have more than doubled since 2002, according to Zenith International. In 2006, 1.5m European households tried soya products for the first time and the total global consumption was 1.188m litres in 2006, with a retail value of €3.3bn. Zenith predicts growth to 1,900 litres and €5.35m by 2011. The UK has the biggest market for soya drinks in Europe, according to Euromonitor, accounting for 26 per cent of the total consumption (over 90m litres in 2006). Representatives from Mastertaste will be presenting the results of its development work and sensory study at the 4th International Dairy-Free Conference in London this week. Cavallero and Crowe will also give a presentation of the challenges in flavouring dairy-free products, focusing on the growing market for dairy-free beverages and desserts.