While the challenge for formulators to design products that impart a full taste profile is not new, the soaring growth for foods that incorporate healthy ingredients, such as green tea and soy, has thrown up new obstacles. Symrise claims that flavors from its SymLife Mask platform have been effective "in overcoming bitter, burning, astringent, chalky, salty, metallic tastes and a host of other off-flavors and off-notes." The German-based firm with global sites asserts that their masking flavors can be used for caffeine, green tea, proteins, soy, sweeteners, cacao, as well as other "problem ingredients." A need that the market - driven by the health conscious consumer - is pushing: "We are receiving more and more requests from food makers to mask off-tastes," Donna Rosa, director, business development at Symrise tells FoodNavigator-USA.com. "We started work on bitter masking several years ago, and today we have accumulated technology and expertise that provides us with a better understanding about bitterness, and how to mask it," she added. The flavour additions from Symrise seek to mask unpleasant off-tastes while, in parallel, aim to achieve the maximum from the ingredient. Symrise has four ways to mask bitter and other off-notes. The first is a palette of raw materials (some proprietary) that have specific masking characteristics against the 'bad' flavors, but do not interfere with the 'good' ones, says the flavor firm. The second set out to use materials that maximize the impact of the desired flavor. The third involves Symrise's encapsulation technology to give flavor burst, duration and stability. The fourth tool is linked to the Symsate products that can lift the flavor immediately and provide sensory effects ,such as mouth watering for astringent materials like green tea. Pressures of costs are prevalent in today's tight climate. But food makers are obliged to weigh up the cost versus benefits balance. If their product has a more favourable taste profile, the consumer is more likely to purchase it. And products involving greater costs at the R&D level, can arguably be recouped on the shelf, at a premium price. For Rosa, "the cost depends on the technology involved, but ultimately we are talking about a second flavour."