Signature Flavors & Sensory Insights
We sat down with our Sensory Manager Julie Drainville on a video call to chat about the importance of creating signature flavors for brands – and how they can do it using the right flavors. Don’t miss this Q&A!
What is a signature flavor?
Julie: A signature flavor is a flavor that sets your product apart from others in the marketplace. It is a flavor that makes consumers want to choose your product over your competition’s product, and Edlong can help you in creating signature flavors that consumers will crave and seek out regularly.
Why is it important for companies to strive for creating signature flavor profiles for their products?
Julie: It’s important for your flavor profile to be unique so that it sets you apart from other products in the marketplace. If a consumer is looking for a plant-based butter spread for instance, you want them to search out your brand because the overall profile of your spread makes them want to continue to come back to your product.
What factors are there in creating a signature taste profile?
Julie: When creating your signature flavor you need to consider the characterizing flavor that you are looking for, do you want a buttery taste, or maybe a hint of vanilla or cheddar cheese? Then you need to consider how that flavor profile will interact with your base. In order to balance the flavor profile, you might end up choosing a different profile than you originally expected to use. You will also need to play around with the amount of flavor that you use to get the right intensity level for your product. And, yet another consideration you will need to take into account is if you need any sort of masking of off-notes, Natural flavors can work very well to minimize off-notes of things like plant-based proteins for example.
Can you tell us a little bit about some of the research you do around this?
Julie: Edlong can help direct you to which signature flavor is right to make your product successful in the marketplace. One example I can give you is some research that Edlong did in the Organic Snack category. When Edlong was looking to expand our line of Organic flavors we wanted to understand the products where those flavors would be used. We took a look at Organic Cheese snacks and our team started by tasting everything we could find.
We used a tool called Projective Mapping to categorize the Organic Cheese snacks. This tool uses trained panelists to group products by similarities and differences in the flavor profile. By doing this, we saw that the cheese intensity was very low in current products on the market – meaning this was a great opportunity for Edlong to create Organic Certified Natural Cheese Flavors that provided an intensity greater than what was in the market and similar to the intensity of our other Natural Cheese Flavors. So the Flavor Chemists got to work and accomplished that goal. We currently have a diverse line of Organic flavors including ones for cheese, butter, milk, cultured, masking, and sweet dairy.
To see the full results, make sure to download a copy of our Organic Cheese Puff Case Study.
What challenges can there be in creating signature taste profiles?
Julie: Edlong scientists are experts at understanding how flavors interact in different bases. With all of those factors that we talked about going into a signature flavor, you can see how important it is to work with a flavor company to tailor the flavor for your base and your needs. Edlong flavor chemists can tweak flavors to add just the right amount of the specific notes that are needed to make your flavor taste great and stand out in the market.
What other sensory factors should be considered when creating signature flavors?
Julie: Another factor that you need to consider is aftertaste. When working with plant-based ingredients you may have lingering off notes even after swallowing, Edlong flavors can be designed to carry through into the aftertaste to mask off-notes while leaving you with a pleasant aftertaste.
Ready to create your signature flavor profile? Our experts here at Edlong are always ready to partner with food manufacturers and their food scientists to create signature flavors that consumers will crave, contact us today to start working with our R&D team on your next success story!
About Julie Drainville: As Edlong’s Senior Sensory Scientist, Julie Drainville’s job is to make sure Edlong flavors are living up to expectations in taste, texture, and function. In other words, she’s responsible for the detailed analysis that makes the intangible, tangible—helping us verify and demonstrate, with data, that our flavors meet formulation goals. Fortunately for us, she’s been doing this for a long time, with a Double Major in Dietetics and Foods, Nutrition and Business from Purdue University. Julie has a Master of Science in Nutrition Education from Rosalind Franklin and completed the UC Davis Sensory Certificate Program. She’s also an active member of the Society of Sensory Professionals. In short, few people have Julie’s credentials in sensory science.