The creative engine for food, wine, and agriculture.

May 15

The Technology of Fantastic Flavor

One of the pleasures of our craft is getting the opportunity to delve beyond the project at hand and learn about our client’s business and industry. We feel it contributes to the quality of the product we provide, and enhances our relationship with our client. From time to time we’ll use our blog to share a bit of what we have learned, we hope you will find it as interesting to read about as we did discovering it.

We focus our work on clients involved in the areas of food, wine, and agriculture. As a consequence, flavor is a common thread throughout our client work, and we have had the pleasure of learning a great deal about the importance of  both natural flavor, and the science of flavor technology.

Our knowledge of flavor technology and trends began as a result of our work in the wine industry for one of our favorite clients’ Cork Supply cooperage brands Tonnellerie O, Barrel 21 and Creative Oak (oak alternatives). As we learned the ins and outs of coopering, closures and their associated technologies, we were exposed to the science of flavor in winemaking. Our knowledge further expanded as we developed a marketing communications package for Nellson Nutraceuticals. They develop custom nutrition bars, dry blends and healthy snacks for brands, and the creation of custom flavor profiles is an important part of the services they provide.

The demand for custom flavor profiles is increasing, and innovation in the category is it’s hallmark. In the U.S. retail marketplace, influencers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s have specific guidelines that impact all ingredients, including flavors. Products destined for European markets will have to be EU-compliant, mandating adherence to specific regulations governing flavor formulations.

Consumer trends are a primary driver behind new flavor profiles and innovation. Food Processing Magazine took a look at what’s hot in flavor for 2012. A continuing interest in spicy, robust ethnic flavors. Mexican, Indian, and South American flavors are contributing to “America ‘spicing it up’ in 2012,” according to Meera Vasudevan, executive vice president of Preferred Brands International. Ed McIntosh, marketing manager for Flavorchem Corp. further advises that the “top flavors for savory snack categories are varietal cheese flavors, barbecue, wasabi and garlic. Six months ago, barbecue-type flavors were not even listed,” he says. “Now, they’re in the top 10.”

Product categories are also influential on flavor trends. Health and wellness-focused manufacturers tend to have customers that are open to more experimental flavors, and accepting of more true-to-flavor profiles that might be more acidic or exotic than traditional consumer flavor profiles. Many products in the nutraceutical category are capitalizing on the 2012 trend of big citrus fruit flavors that tend to be more tart than in the past.

In wine, tremendous innovation in the area of oak alternatives is being led by MJR client Creative Oak. Their products provide winemakers with tank staves, tank bags, or barrel inserts that impart specific flavor profiles to the wines. The flavor varieties enable winemakers add a personalized brand signature to their wine without using traditional oak barrels. This interactive chart showcases the types of flavors winemakers can use, choosing either convection toasts or fire toasts. We love descriptors like butterscotch (typically used for Chardonnay, Cabernet, Zinfandel or Syrah), smokey (chocolate and coffee tones), and spicy (clove and anise!) and medium plus fire (vanilla, roasted nut and spice).
– Bradley Fitzhenry, Brand Manager, MJR Creative Group

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Image: Feeling Saucy a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from LincolnBlues’s photo stream.

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