Solving Taste Challenges with Flavor Modulation

This article is written and sponsored by Kerry.

Taste is what drives consumers to purchase their favorite foods and beverages. However, great taste isn’t always easy to achieve. In fact, categories like plant-based meat and dairy alternatives and nutritional beverages face common challenges like flavor off-notes, the wrong texture, and high sugar and sodium content. Consumers that align with plant-based alternatives want taste experiences that replicate real meat and dairy, so it’s crucial for brands to meet these expectations.

Taste modulators can help manufacturers balance or restore the right aroma, flavor, and mouthfeel to achieve preferred taste in nutritionally optimized products. With that, below we explore four common taste challenges that affect a variety of food and beverage categories and offer taste modulation solutions to improve taste.

Challenge 1: Off-notes

Plant-based meat alternatives commonly suffer from off-notes because of nature’s product formulation. Terms like “beany,” “bitter,” and “cardboard-like,” are often used to describe the taste of plant-based meat products. Beverages with enhanced functionality also suffer from off-notes, often stemming from added proteins, minerals, vitamins and high-intensity sweeteners. While consumers prefer these types of ingredients, the off-notes and aftertaste can ruin their eating and drinking experience.

Solution: Masking modulation

Masking modulators can be used to improve flavor profiles and mitigate undesired off-notes, enabling manufacturers to create great-tasting products with proteins and high-intensity sweeteners while maintaining a clean label. Masking technologies can work well in categories such as beverages, plant-based meat alternatives, plant-based dairy, and snacks.

Challenge 2: Mouthfeel

Different foods and beverages create different sensations in the mouth. From the fattiness of a barbecued burger to the ooey-gooey sensation of melted cheese, the mouthfeel of food impacts the overall flavor. When you reduce sugar, fat or salt, mouthfeel can suffer – there may be a lack of smoothness, body, syrupy notes, fatty sensations, or creaminess.

Solution: Mouthfeel modulation

Taste modulators can help improve rich, full-body experiences, including syrupy, creamy and fatty notes, in nutritionally-optimized products. For example, using mouthfeel modulation in plant-based products can restore the creaminess of a non-dairy yogurt or smoothness in a non-dairy protein shake, thereby meeting the same consumer expectations for a traditional, dairy-based product.

Challenge 3: High sugar content

Consumers are looking to improve their overall wellness through everyday food and beverage choices. For instance, they want low- or no-sugar products with the same great taste they are used to. However, taste and mouthfeel can be compromised when formulating products with reduced sugar. Manufacturers are also concerned with the environmental impact of sugar production, which uses an extensive amount of water and leads to CO2 emissions.

Solution: Sweet flavor modulation

Sweet flavor modulators can optimize taste and nutrition by amplifying and balancing sweet taste while improving nutrition without off-notes. To combat the environmental issues associated with sugar production, manufacturers can also use organic solutions for sugar reduction. For example, Kerry recently introduced Kerry Tastensense™ Sweet Certified Organic, the first certified organic sweet flavor modulator in North America. It can be used across applications, including flavored sparkling water, energy and functional drinks, and both high and low ABV alcoholic beverages.

Challenge 4: High sodium content

Just like consumers are watching their sugar intake, they also want less sodium: 1 in 3 consumers are conscious of reducing or limiting intake of salt/sodium. Products made with reduced sodium can suffer from off-notes like loss of salty taste, lack of succulence and a strong after-taste.

Solution: Sodium reduction

Taste solutions that address sodium reduction can help improve the flavor profile and enable lower or reduced sodium levels, as well as clean label and better-for-you claims. This type of taste modulation is especially important for applications like meat, meat alternatives, prepared meals, sauces, soups, and snack seasonings, which traditionally have higher levels of sodium

About Kerry

Kerry is the world’s leading taste and nutrition partner for the food, beverage and pharmaceutical markets. We innovate with our customers to create great-tasting products that feature improved nutrition and functionality while fostering a better impact on the planet. Our leading consumer insights, global RD&A team of 1,100+ food scientists, and extensive global footprint, enable us to solve our customers’ complex challenges using differentiated solutions. At Kerry, we are driven to be our customers’ most valued partner, creating a world of sustainable nutrition, and will reach over 2 billion consumers with sustainable nutrition solutions by 2030. For more information, visit Kerry Taste and Nutrition Ingredients and Expertise | Kerry

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