Most brands recognize that consumers want and expect everything to be delicious. I constantly hear, “You just have to make it taste great, no matter what.” Unfortunately, a lot of really effective ingredients taste or smell like earth, grass, wood… or worse. I will refrain from using words that I have heard to describe certain tastes and smells so that this article remains suitable for families. In the past, these ingredients were simply left out or “fairy powder” in proprietary formulas.
More recently, many flavor specialists are simply overpowering the bad guys with a sweetener or an acid – a method that works but can end up making the product taste very sweet or leave a very strong chemical aftertaste. Even more disheartening, a manufacturer will simply say that something cannot be flavored. In some cases, this is true, but often this mentality is due to a lack of technical depth or time ready to be invested in finding a solution. A brand has a chance to win a customer, so removing offensive ingredients is much easier, but finding a way to capture it all will make a consumer a lifelong advocate for their brand.
While the term “flavor chemist” is often used, “artist” may be more appropriate. Chemistry works in some cases, but often draws a strong line between known taste and perceived taste. This brings me to the parallel of wine tasting, where a sommelier will say that she tastes “leather”, or “lead” or “pencil shavings”. I’m not sure about you, but the last time I had pencil shavings was in fourth grade and obviously it didn’t taste good as it was no longer part of my diet since. Point? Perception is a one-way street and whether or not an expert is involved in the aroma side, it is only what the customer thinks. Instead, work with manufacturers who start with a blank canvas and work on things, rather than those who follow standard methods.
To this end, allow extra time in a “rush to market” strategy so that the product can approach perfection. Several flavor houses (flavor makers / makers) have done a great job creating natural and artificial masking agents, as well as strong flavorings, to help combat the taste problem.
Formulators and manufacturers should spend more time working with flavor groups to develop ways to overcome taste barriers. And brands are welcome for outside help to make their products their best – after all, it’s their brand. For those who have succeeded in making unpleasant ingredients taste great, this means that adding unique ingredients at an effective dosage is now a fair game and clearly an advantage in the field.
This article is excerpted from a longer article, “Challenges in Formulating, Flavoring and Making Pre-Workouts” from “Energy ingredients with market buzz“Digital magazine. Click the link and open the table of contents to browse this and other functionality.
David Sandler is a 30-year industry veteran and consultant to ingredient suppliers, brands and manufacturers. He can be contacted at [email protected] Where linkedin.com/in/sandlerdavid.