The application of natural flavours in the light of current health trends
Expectations of consumers towards food
Customer expectations towards food are constantly changing. This is largely associated with the significant development of the food industry, but also with the increase in public awareness.
In recent years, there has been an increased interest in natural and health-promoting products.
All processing-related issues, the presence of preservatives or flavours in food products are negatively perceived by customers. Few of us, however, are aware of the fact that the above-mentioned food additives provide it with the qualities we care about most, i.e. durability, taste, smell, etc.
Currently, the food additive market is shaped by several dominant trends, namely:
‘Health & Wellness’ trend
promoting the use of functional additives, which:
positively affect our well-being
support the immune system
increase the level of energy
are great for sports enthusiasts
are great for those who care about beauty and maintaining a slim figure
work against diseases, e.g. diabetes
are used in the production of ‘light’ food products
‘Back to nature’ trend, which means:
the use of natural ingredients in flavours
moving away from synthetics in favour of natural isolates and ingredients WONF (With Other Natural Flavors).
‘Luxury in multi brands’ trend:
improving the quality of used ingredients
using fancy aromas and exotic fruits
addition of alcohol and juice
pieces of cookies and chocolate
pieces of fruit
According to statistics, the most important feature of a food product, testifying to its quality, is taste. The more specific or fancy it is, the greater the demand for a given product. Therefore, flavouring substances are widely used in almost every branch of the food industry as food additives, providing a unique taste experience.
Currently, flavouring products are already present in almost every market product. Their use is strictly regulated by Regulation (EC) No. 1334/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. This regulation precisely defines the requirements and properties that should be met by flavours used in food, including the concept of a natural flavouring substance, which is as follows: ‘natural flavouring substance’ shall mean a flavouring substance obtained by appropriate physical, enzymatic or microbiological processes from material of vegetable, animal or microbiological origin either in the raw state or after processing for human consumption by one or more of the traditional food preparation processes listed in Annex II. Natural flavouring substances correspond to substances that are naturally present and have been identified in nature’.
This means that every chemical substance that comes from natural sources and was obtained using non-chemical processes is classified as natural and its presence in the finished product is expressed on the label by the declaration ‘natural aroma’.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO VERIFY THAT THE FLAVOUR IS NATURAL?
From a chemical point of view, flavouring substances, regardless of their origin, i.e. whether they were obtained from plant material or were synthesised in a laboratory, are identical if their structure is the same.
Maybe I should use a powder flavour?
The development of the food industry, and in particular the increase in interest in functional food, have forced the use of flavours in powder form. They are obtained by applying aromatic substances to a loose carrier, as a result of which the liquid aroma is enclosed in so-called microcapsules. Carriers can be all kinds of gums, dextrins, modified starch, pectins, etc. It was this technique that brought the greatest effects towards improving the properties of flavours used in the food industry. Powdered flavours are characterised by an extended storage time in relation to liquid flavours, because aromatic substances enclosed in microcapsules are more effectively protected against the harmful effects of external factors. The undeniable advantage of this type of aromas is also their thermal stability. Powdered flavours are characterised by greater thermal stability, which is associated with a decrease in the volatility of fragrances by binding them to a non-volatile carrier.
Microencapsulation in cyclodextrins
The microencapsulation technique in cyclodextrins shows a very large development tendency, which allows the use of unstable flavours containing many volatile or susceptible to auto-oxidation components. Another quite important advantage of this group of compounds is the fact that they can significantly reduce or even eliminate the undesirable taste and smell of some food products. Among other things, it was found that they remove the unpleasant smell of garlic, fish or mutton.
Closing aromas in cyclodextrins significantly improves sensory sensations, as their release occurs gradually during eating. In addition, the lipid environment significantly improves the thermal stability of said compounds. Therefore, coating the surfaces of their complexes with aromas with oils allows them to be used in processes that require extremely high temperatures, for example when baking biscuits.
Powdering flavours, in addition to many advantages, unfortunately also have disadvantages. The high cost of the apparatus, as well as its operation, significantly increases the price of the final product. In addition, this process is time-consuming. It should also be mentioned that the use of powder flavours as flavouring additives in articles such as praline masses is very limited due to the poor solubility in oils.
The food industry is a dynamic structure that will always develop. The use of flavours will increase, which is why research and development laboratories of aroma companies are constantly working on new compositions to meet customer expectations as well as new trends.
Author: Beata Zagroba COO Flavours Factory Sp. z o.o.