Achieving Cost-Effective World Class Flavor Creation
Flavor creation is both art and science. While most in the industry recognize the number of variables involved in flavor creation. There are even more moving pieces when it comes to understanding a flavor budget.
Sensapure Flavor’s director of business development, Matt Doxey, says that misunderstanding flavor budget elements comes with a high price. “A lot of brands simply don’t know what a flavor should cost, and that can result in overpaying for a complete flavor
Although achieving a cost-effective flavor system isn’t easy, it is always worth the effort. Let’s discuss the important variables of understanding cost effective flavors, the hidden cost of naturals, and how redefining mixology can often decrease flavor costs significantly.
Understanding Flavor Creation and Budgets
There’s several components to consider when looking at a flavor budget: serving size, sweetener use, color use, natural vs. artificial ingredient/chemical use. As a general rule, natural flavors and sweeteners are more expensive. Serving size is relative to the quantity of product base (active ingredients) and what the base tastes like before flavoring. While red colors aren’t more costly than blues, the cost of colors can rise when utilizing natural colors.
The strength of active ingredients’ flavor in the product base is also a factor in the flavor budget. This is where the costs begin to vary the most among different flavor houses.
Five Flavor Ingredients or Fifty-five
Clients often have one or two words in mind when looking to flavor their product bases. “We want a ‘Fresh Berry’ flavor,” they say. Flavor chemists, on the other hand, have thousands of different chemicals in mind while creating a flavor. The words “Chocolate,” or “Blue Raspberry,” can result in a myriad of different formulations when consulting a flavor house. Like artists with blank canvases and a pallet of colors, possibilities are endless for flavor chemists with blank product bases.
Flavor chemists are trained to layer natural and/or artificial ingredients and chemicals to create complex and intriguing flavors. As the flavor system becomes more complicated, more chemicals are introduced, thus raising the cost of the final flavor. When you factor in aftertaste, texture, and mouthfeel, a flavor masterpiece is difficult to commercialize (too darned expensive). Often times, a brand will work through a dozen iterations of a flavor. After adding finishing touches, they’ll realize the added costs of those elements push the cost over the target budget.
The Hidden Costs of Naturals
Consumers are becoming more health conscious and demanding greater transparency in their food and supplement intakes. Brands are meeting customer’s needs by flavoring products with natural ingredients, natural sweeteners, and natural colors. Doxey says if there’s a hidden cost that brands come across when consulting with a flavor house, “It’s typically related to the rise in demand for naturals.” Replacing an artificial sweetener with a natural sweetener like Stevia or Monk Fruit brings up flavor cost. This is why brands and consumers pay premium for natural flavors or non-GMO labels on products.
Rise in demand for consumers and brand transparency is another reason flavor houses are getting away with raising costs. Standards for flavor costs within the industry are relative regardless. But up and coming trends in flavors and ingredients come with even more blurred lines. If brands are at risk of overpaying for an artificial fruit punch, the risk rapidly expands when it comes to an all natural coconut matcha flavor.
It’s important to understand that every flavor is unique. Some raw ingredients are more difficult to source than others due to location, availability, and rising prices of natural ingredients. Layered (multiple sensory) flavors or fringe flavors come with added costs no matter where flavors are made. But understanding a flavor budget minimizes risks of hidden costs in your final product.
Flavor Chemistry vs. Mixology
When looking to minimize the costs of a flavor, “mixology” and “flavor chemistry” must work hand-in-hand. Sensapure CEO, Jeff Reynolds said, “If flavor creation is both an art and a science, the balance and partnership between both functions is central in perfecting a cost-effective flavor system.” Mixology is a term used by lots of folks in lots of different ways. In product/applications development, this describes existing compounds (flavors, sweeteners, masking agents, active ingredients) “Mixing” to create new solutions.
Essentially, the mixology “toolbox” consists of the flavors and ingredients each brand, manufacturer or flavor house has on hand. With only mixology, flavor houses will “keep mixing” additional ingredients to achieve the goal, thus increasing final product cost. “Almost anyone can make something taste good for any amount of money,” Doxey says, “A lot of times people add more sweetener or more chemicals to cover up actives, which raises prices significantly.”
Utilizing flavor chemistry alongside mixology allows companies to simplify, minimize, and eliminate redundancies in the formulation. However, they can still create a flavor system that works well with actives such as caffeine and amino acids.
Doxey explains that mixology plus flavor chemistry is not about adding more to the flavor profile and thus increasing the budget. It’s about changing chemicals until the flavor profile is exactly right.
“The right combination of art (mixology) and science (flavor chemistry), can arrive at the specific formulation in order to enhance desired notes from the flavor while masking unwanted tastes of active ingredients,” said Reynolds. Doxey added, “Good flavor chemists are able to work with applications mixology to create a flavor with complexity while still meeting a clients needs economically.”
What To Consider in Flavor Creation
Each flavor house has a different viewpoint on how to meet the needs of their clients. However, not all have a good pulse of what a product should cost based on market parameters. It’s important to consider cost transparency within your contract and to work with a flavor partner who is upfront about costs from the beginning. Although some exotic and natural flavors can be costly, there shouldn’t be too many hidden costs throughout the process once when you identify the specific requirements and what you are looking for in your flavor profile.
While every company seeks to create cost-effective solutions, it’s critical to make sure that your flavor partner doesn’t sacrifice quality to cut costs. When properly designed, a great flavor doesn’t have to break the bank, and the amazing taste will have your customer coming back for more.
About Sensapure Flavors
Sensapure Flavors is a flavor house that services the nutrition and supplement industry with exciting flavor technology and unmatched applications experience. Born in a manufacturing company that understands the ever-changing needs of the nutraceutical industry, Sensapure combines new flavor technologies with deep product application experience.
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