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What You Need to Know Before Using Flavourings

flavour & aroma product development May 25, 2023
flavourings using sources extracted from nature such as herbs and citrus


Using flavourings can be quite challenging, as they come with their own set of regulations that vary from country to country, along with specific terminology and restrictions on certain raw materials or solvents. Additionally, in food and beverage products, flavour perception can vary significantly based on various factors, including the ingredients used in the recipe, processing techniques, and pH levels.

Finding the right intensity and ensuring all characteristics of the flavourings shine through your product is essential for a well-rounded taste experience.

Contrary to popular belief, using flavourings is not as simple as adding a few drops to a recipe. Achieving the desired flavour delivery involves much more attention to details and science-based decisions.

In this blog, we will explore why using flavourings isn't as straightforward as it seems and how we can overcome these challenges.


How food & beverage matrices influence flavour perception

 selection of plant-based milks such as chickpea, almont, soy.

Before ordering or using flavourings in any recipe, food, or beverage, it is essential to consider the ingredients and their quantities, as well as the impact they will have on the flavour's intensity and profile.

Each flavouring consists of dozens to hundreds of aroma compounds, each with its own physical and chemical properties such as hydrophilic or hydrophobic, small or large, and highly or lowly volatile. These properties determine the affinity each aroma compound has with the matrix's ingredients, including water, alcohol, fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Lipophilic aroma compounds will associate with fat molecules in the matrix, while hydrophilic molecules will gravitate toward water molecules. This interaction affects how easily these compounds reach our nose when we smell or consume a product. In some cases, the bond between the aroma compounds and matrix ingredients is so strong that the compounds never reach our olfactory receptors at the back of our nose; they simply cannot be released from the matrix.

Try this simple technique to help you understand how various components affect flavour perception:
Select any water-soluble flavouring you have, such as vanilla extract, coffee extract, or rose water. Mix equal amounts of the flavouring into 100 ml of water and 100ml of semi-skimmed milk (or any other milk available to you). Smell and taste the difference between the two solutions. Take note of the variations in intensity and flavour profile, identify which flavour notes are present in one but not the other.

For further experimentation, repeat this process using:
🔸100ml of water and 100ml of water with 0.5%-1% sugar
🔸100ml of water and 100ml of water with 10% plain protein powder

Understanding the fundamentals of reformulation, particularly in relation to non-HFSS legislation, is crucial for finding the right balance in your recipe. Fat, sugar, and salt are well-known flavour enhancers, but using too little or too much of these ingredients can reduce flavour intensity and alter the overall flavour profile.

Unfortunately, current scientific research on this topic is limited, and ongoing efforts are being made to better comprehend ingredient interactions and their effects on flavours.

Check out the previous blog where we explored the science behind aroma compounds and how they shape our food experience.


Choosing the best flavour profile(s)

digestives biscuits and a lemon drink

Flavour profiling and pairing

Product profiling and pairing are sensory and analytical techniques used to assess your product's features and select complementary flavours with similar compounds. This process aims to enhance their attributes and make them more prominent in your base.

Classic flavours like chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and lemon may not always be appropriate for your products, especially when incorporating vitamins, minerals, vegan proteins, or adaptogens such as ashwagandha. These ingredients can potentially create undesirable tastes.

Understanding your product's profile is essential for customising fitting flavours. These comprehensive tools not only boost creativity but also help narrow down the list of suitable flavours for your products. They also promote conversations within your organisation and with suppliers when choosing flavours for your project.

For instance, biscuits primarily feature cooked, brown, and wheaty notes. As such, pairing them with a fresh, green, juicy strawberry might not be the best choice. However, a jammy strawberry could complement the biscuit better. Conversely, in an acidic beverage, adding a brown flavour like honey or caramel may not be ideal. Instead, a fresh, juicy, and zesty lemon would likely work better.

Check out the previous blog where we explore the Art and Science of Flavour Pairing.

Flavour perception

One aspect often overlooked is recreating consumer perception for the chosen flavour(s). For instance, if you're working on an apple pie recipe and want to experiment with different apple flavourings to enhance its fruitiness, which flavour profile would you choose? Cooked apple, fresh green apple, toffee apple, or confectionary apple? 

The predominant expectation for an apple pie filling involves cooked notes, brown notes (like brown sugar), stewed apple notes and may also include spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg, depending on the recipe. Thus, incorporating a fresh green apple flavouring or a confectionery one might not work well since the brain might struggle to comprehend why such notes are present when they shouldn't be.

This is why understanding flavour perception is crucial.

A highly effective method involves directly asking consumers in surveys or focus groups to taste and articulate their expectations of an apple pie's flavour.



Product stability

It is important to map out every factor, including potential ingredient interactions, process degradation, packaging, storage, and distribution, which can positively or negatively impact the flavour delivery of your product.

It is essential to determine your knowledge regarding your current or future product. Conduct extensive research to gain a comprehensive understanding and make informed, science-based decisions. For example, evaluate the cost and taste implications of each choice. This method is the most efficient way to design and select appropriate flavours. Though it may require some initial time investment, it will prevent wasted time later in your project.

For example, a low pH negatively affects beverage stability by speeding up degradation processes, modifying flavourings, and considerably reducing shelf life. Citrus flavourings are highly sensitive to these changes due to their strong pH dependency. Additionally, heat treatment – from pasteurisation to UHT processing – can substantially decrease flavour intensity in the final product due to their high volatility.



In conclusion, achieving the desired flavour delivery in food and beverage products is a complex and intricate process that requires a keen understanding of flavourings, their chemical properties, and their interactions with various matrices.

The successful use of flavourings involves considering numerous factors such as ingredients influences, flavour profiles, consumer perception, and product stability.

By taking the time to thoroughly understand these variables and making informed decisions based on scientific principles, you can create harmonious and appealing flavours that align with consumer expectations.


Link to related blogs you may enjoy

🔶The Magic of Aroma Compounds: How They Shape Our Food Experience 

🔶A Journey of Flavours: How a London Food Safari Will Broaden Your Culinary Horizons 

🔶Finding Harmony in Chaos: The Art and Science of Flavour Pairing

🔶Mastering Your Palate: How to Use a Flavour Lexicon



Previous experience includes working at a flavour house, where I received comprehensive training on Flavour Lexicons and witnessed the power of flavour pairing. Working in the food industry, I honed my expertise by developing a flavour tools such as a Flavour Lexicon and training the R&D department, collaborating with a flavour supplier and the Sensory/CTI department.

Harold Mcgee, Nose Dive: A Field Guide to the World's Smells, 2020

E. Guichard, Interaction of aroma compounds with food matrices, Flavour Development, Analysis and Perception in Food and Beverages, Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, 2015, Pages 273-295 

I.D. Fisk, Aroma release, Flavour Development, Analysis and Perception in Food and Beverages, Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, 2015, Pages 105-123 

J.K. Parker, Introduction to aroma compounds in foods, Flavour Development, Analysis and Perception in Food and Beverages, Series in Food Science, Technology and Nutrition, 2015, Pages 3-30

EPICSI Leverage
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Stay ahead of the game and impress your consumers with our extensive flavour, product development, and technical skills & knowledge. 


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EPICSI Leverage
Flavour Expertise


Stay ahead of the game and impress your consumers with our extensive flavour, product development, and technical skills & knowledge. 


Discover Our Services

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