The Irish-based ingredient supplier said it has commissioned the research at North Carolina State University to characterise the inherent flavours present in its whey proteins and learn more about the relationship between flavour, manufacturing processes, storage and consumer responses.
Paul Donegan, Carbery marketing manager, told FoodNavigator.com that in lower doses whey protein is used for cost minimisation and processing reasons in foods such as yoghurt, ice-cream and soups, in order to add viscosity, creaminess and mouth-feel respectively.
In higher doses it is used as an added-value ingredient, for example in clinical and sports nutrition sectors.
He said that, particularly on the nutritional side, whey protein is becoming a much more important ingredient. But when used in higher doses, it is more of a challenge so “more care must be taken” not to impact areas such as taste and storage.
The aim of the research is to bring together a wider understanding of the molecular flavours in whey protein, along with Carbery’s own flavour expertise, to engineer products.
Carbery, which manufactures whey protein, also has a flavour and savoury ingredients company called Synergy and the research is expected to help Synergy develop flavours for its customers that have been specially formulated for use with whey and other proteins.
Donegan said: “In understanding the flavour profiles of the whey protein you understand which flavours will work well with the protein.”
The research includes the creation of specific flavour lexicons for whey protein and quantitative taste profiling, which are tools for documenting flavour.
Donegan added that there are already about 15 taste descriptors which vary across different types of whey protein, for example ‘cereal type’ flavours.
However, the techniques being used to develop the flavour lexicons will be based around sensory science (tasting and smelling) as well as flavour chemistry, (identifying different molecules and quantifying them).
Barbara McCarthy, Carbery’s ingredient applications manager said: “We feel that it is essential to have a precise understanding of the sensory flavour profiles in whey protein ingredients, so that we can evolve our processes and continue to provide the highest quality ingredients.”
The research will cover Carbery’s whey protein concentrates, isolates, and hydrolysed whey (Optipep). Much of the research will characterise the flavour profiles of the company’s Optipep range and initial results are expected later this year.
However, Donegan said that eventually its flavour division will be able to use the research to work with customers that may be using proteins not only from Carbery but other sources as well.
Heading the research is Professor Mary Anne Drake, director of the sensory analysis and flavour chemistry team at the university’s Food, Bioprocessing & Nutrition Sciences department, who has expertise in dairy products.
She said: “The flavour research will focus on the development of defined sensory languages for proteins and the use of flavour chemistry to benefit product development and formulation.
“It will also lead to in-depth understanding of inherent flavours in whey protein and greater insight into consumers’ perception of flavour.”