Plant-based food manufacturers can help position their products to succeed by adding flavors and addressing mouthfeel. The benchmark for plant-based products is a real thing. Usually, you’re looking for something that looks the same, tastes the same, and even has the same properties in terms of mouthfeel. The product also, most importantly, has to taste good, or at least good enough and familiar enough. Sometimes, though, you may just need a blank canvas to work from where all of the off-notes in the product are gone so innovation can begin. Either way, adding flavors to a plant-based product can greatly improve the consumers’ perception and preference.
Adding Flavors For Improved Mouthfeel
Mouthfeel is a crucial element in food, it contributes to the whole taste experience almost as much as flavor. “In plant-based products, since animal fat isn’t used, you often lose the fatty mouthfeel that consumers are used to with real meat and dairy. Adding back the taste of dairy can give consumers the perception of creaminess that may be missing in plant-based products,” says Julie Drainville, Edlong’s Sensory Manager.
When considering a formulation, manufacturers need to know how consumers will use the product. If a shredded cheese is melted on pizza, the flavors must be able to withstand heat, Drainville said. If you cook the food at certain high levels, the flavors can flash off and be gone, so you may need a different formula.
The form in which the product will be used in is also important. The pea protein used in a beverage is different from that in a patty, Drainville said. “In a beverage, it needs to be very fine, no graininess and water-soluble. But in a patty, you may have different interactions with ingredients like salt, which can impact the flavor.”
Offset Off-Notes With Masking Solutions
In addition to mouthfeel, masking is key when it comes to creating plant-based products. Whether you’re looking to create authentic dairy taste or simply neutralize the off-notes that are intrinsic to plant-based applications, masking can be your best solution.
The increasing consumer demand for better-for-you, plant-based, and fortified foods and beverages makes it more important than ever to solve the inherent challenge of masking off-notes often associated with the novel ingredients used to create these products.
Adding Flavors Can Help Keep Up With Consumer Trends
Additionally, with food allergies on the rise, consumers want to ensure that not just the foods, but also the flavors used in manufacturing are allergen free. Manufacturers are venturing beyond the routine flavors. It’s amazing if you look at what’s happening in the last five years, you’ll see artisan types of cheeses, like goat cheese alternatives. Nuts and oats are being used as well. Consumers are also gravitating toward better-for-you products that feature natural claims and clean labels, she said.
Ready to tackle the many plant-based development challenges your product will face? Leverage over a century of expertise and a library of hundreds of flavors that can be combined in thousands in combinations from Edlong by contacting us today. Want to learn more about the latest plant-based trends, challenges, and solutions? Don’t miss our Filling The Plant-Based Food Plate e-book!