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Flavor Bites: Flavor Creation in Germany

By: John Wright
Posted: March 18, 2009, from the April 2009 issue of P&F magazine.

Throughout my career as a flavorist, I have had the privilege of experiencing diverse cultures. Sometimes a business trip offered little more than the interior of another anonymous hotel room—but often it provided a unique insight into a different way of life. With the world shrinking quickly, more and more flavorists are finding themselves in a similar situation. Working with global customers inevitably means that some projects will cross national borders, begging questions such as: Will an approach that works in New Jersey be appropriate for another country? Sometimes it will, but other times it will considerably lengthen the odds against success.

I served as creative support for the German market for many years. Germans have rather specific flavor preferences. The relative popularity of different flavors is different than one finds in the United States. In my experience, the top 10 flavors, in descending order, are: strawberry, cheese, vanilla, orange, lemon, dairy, chocolate, chicken, apple and peach. Interestingly, some of these popular global flavors have a notably different profile in Germany.

Unique Profiles

Strawberry: The profile of strawberry flavors is noticeably different in Germany from what is familiar in the United States. Pineapple notes, especially the higher esters such as ethyl hexanoate, are notably lower. Candy floss characters, such as maltol and furaneol, are accentuated, as are dried fruit notes, e.g., 2-methyl butyric acid, and green notes are a little higher than what US consumers are accustomed to. The overall taste effect is subdued and authentic.

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