Today's well-informed and demanding consumers know what they want in terms of flavours: so are we really listening to them?
Authenticity and naturality are without any doubts among the most relevant food and drinks trends to consumers. Takasago, among the top flavour and fragrances houses in the world, has conducted consumer research in nine countries which has shown how shoppers are concerned that the products they consume on a daily basis are first of all natural, with healthy being the second most desired attribute.
As an example, 26% of French consumers quote “no artificial colours, flavours nor sweeteners” as the most sought-after characteristic in a yogurt, while “healthy” and “short list of ingredients” being scored after that at 17% respectively. At the same time, however, it is well known that taste is invariably the number one driver of purchase in most categories and markets.
One of the challenges faced by flavour manufactures nowadays is therefore to deliver flavours that are at the same time natural and appealing. Not only that: products need to taste natural, which means consistent with the expectations consumers have for the real fruit or ingredient from which flavours are named. A Filipino won´t have the same expectations for mango that a European would have, but even within Europe, big taste preference differences exist between the different areas.
As an answer to these needs, Takasago has developed an exclusive technology to create its VIVID Flavour portfolio, delivering flavour authenticity and true to nature tonalities. Starting from the selection of the raw materials in their respective area of provenance, through careful instrumental analysis and with the artistic touch of flavourists, just the most authentic flavours can be obtained and be featured under the VIVID umbrella. Scandinavian berries, Asian citrus, coffee from different origins and varietal mangoes are just some examples of these true-to-nature tonalities.
The challenges of the plant based era
Another trend that cannot be ignored is that of plant based dairy substitutes and meat analogues. People´s interest in more sustainable, ethical and healthier products has driven an explosive growth in these areas. Many challenges surface for food manufacturers on what kind of flavour to deliver and how to modulate off-notes typical of certain ingredients, widely used in these products.
In a research on flexitarians, vegetarians and vegans in the US and Germany, Takasago has identified different consumer mind-sets looking for very different taste experience in plant based products.
As an example, not everyone wants to have realistic meat flavour profiles in vegetarian or vegan products. While flexitarians are open to this as they are still meat consumers, vegans appear to be acceptors of the natural taste of a soy in both drinks and savoury products because they are already familiar to it. They would instead tend to reject a beef or chicken flavoured meat substitute as they are not used to nor keen on those flavours any longer. They are striving to find natural, wholesome and versatile products that are shamelessly vegetable-forward.
Versatility is also the most sought-after attribute for flexitarians. Variety in meat and dairy alternatives, as well as the original texture and taste of milk and meat, emerged as fundamental to the growing flexitarian base. It is evident that the landscape of consumers‘ taste preferences in plant-based products is extremely varied. Takasago has optimized a wide range of solutions in order to meet the needs of very different consumer groups.
The INTENSATES masking and modulating flavours are versatile, powerful solutions that can be used in a variety of plant based products to convey just the right experience that individuals are searching for: umami, masking of off-notes, improved mouthfeel or sweetness. These solutions are studied and optimized on multiple applications targeting individual needs, as there is no one-key-fits-all for this category. Understanding and acknowledging the complexity of each flavour need will help allow food manufacturers to win the challenges of these new exciting markets.