At Edlong, we make achieving the authentic taste of dairy look easy; it’s not. Adding freshness and flavor functionality to foods and beverages, including processed foods, analog cheese and vegan products, is a common challenge for our customers. Our years of experience give us the expertise to meet that challenge. Our dedicated flavor scientists and culinary team are experts and artisans: they know the deep science behind authentic taste, but they also know delivering it is an art.
Adding Flavor Functionality with Layering
While vegan products, such as non-dairy cheeses, are growing in demand, many producers struggle to deliver authentic flavor and mouthfeel. Fortunately, functional performance improvements in texture, stretch, creaminess and flavor layering mean consumers no longer have to sacrifice the authentic taste of dairy in dairy-free applications.
“Dairy-free flavors with authentic regional character and taste profiles offer the formulator new options to add more sophisticated and authentic flavors,” says Beth Warren, Edlong’s Chief Commercial Officer. This is often best done by flavor layering. For example, one flavor can add dairy creaminess, while saltiness can be achieved without sodium by incorporating a blue cheese flavor. Flavor layering, particularly in dairy analogs, is sometimes overlooked by formulators because they introduce flavor at the end of product development as opposed to the beginning. But focusing on the texture and processing before the taste profile can be a fundamental mistake. Flavor functionality makes a big difference. Says Beth Warren, “The right flavor processed under varied conditions during heat process, then followed by other flavors layered for mouthfeel and creaminess, ultimately achieves the sophisticated profile that is as much art as it is science. Authentic taste is the key to the consumer buying the product again.”
Flavor Functionality in Analog Cheeses
Dairy analogs have historically been used as a way to reduce cost—either by extending natural cheese in different applications or by completely removing it. But these analogs have often been viewed as inferior in flavor to their natural counterparts.
Recent innovations in raw materials, along with consumers’ changing attitudes toward foods, have altered that perception. Analogs provide the flexibility to change fat, water and protein sources and ratios, as well as provide consumers with more diverse flavor options to reflect their regional or global preferences. Analogs not only help developers meet consumers’ nutritional needs, but also meet growing market trends such as increased demand for plant-based products, low-cost products, fortified products or allergen-free products. Additionally, analogs allow for cost savings from commodity reduction by adding cheese flavor to culinary-inspired frozen side dishes or sauces in vegan formats and prepared meals.
Regardless whether a product uses analog or traditional ingredients, it still has to taste good. In fact, according to a study by Mintel, taste is the most important factor for U.S. consumers when selecting products with plant-based proteins. This is where Edlong truly excels. We don’t only make analog products taste as good as the original; we often make them taste better. But maintaining fresh taste with plant-based proteins, vitamins and minerals fortification isn’t simple. Plant-based fats and oils and functional starches can impart bitterness, mouth-drying, astringency and many other unwanted notes. Edlong dairy flavors can mask these unwanted traits in order to create a pleasant-tasting product, and can often do so despite high heat processing, with a stable shelf life, and other processing flavor functionality expectations.
Says Anne Marie Butler, Applications Manager of Edlong Europe, “Here at Edlong our focus isn’t just on flavor—it’s on supporting our customers to find the best solutions for them. We do this by staying up to date on trends, new ingredients, changing technologies and of course, optimizing our flavor range to meet all requirements.”
Reinventing Dairy Authenticity
Great taste is critical, but so is the ability for processors to consistently and easily recreate that taste, in a lower-cost formulation, while maintaining the mouthfeel and richness consumers expect. Chefs and food developers are adept at juggling their artistic visions with reality and demand, but Edlong has their back, working not only to develop new dairy flavors that satisfy trends, but that meet the flavor functionality needs of today’s food manufacturing industry. With Edlong’s flavor functionality, gold standard recipes are within reach, and consumer demand can be met.