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The 5 Drivers of Savory/Snack Flavors

Posted: August 21, 2007

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“A return to slow food continues to grow in popularity,” says Harris. This return to basics and comfort food, he says, reflects a desire for warmth and nostalgia. Yet it also dovetails with a sense of health and wellness. “A demand for cleaner label products is also prevalent,” says Harris. “Combined with the slow food, or close-to-source ingredient push, the theme is related to having the original flavor profile present, [without] sacrifice due to processing.” In this same vein, Harris also points to the growing popularity of sous-vide (“under vacuum” in French) cooking, a well known low-heat, slow-cooking method employing airtight plastic bags that is intended to keep ingredients unadulterated. Similarly, Harris points out that “Amish continues to have an increasing popularity.” While Amish traditions tend to have clean, natural and back-to-basics connotations (though some sects are quite modernized), there is no true rigid definition as in “organic.” Still, Harris says, the underlying desire is to return flavor profiles to where they were “prior to the advent of over-processing.”

3. Health and Wellness

As always, sodium reduction/salt taste enhancement and fat replacement are main points in this category. But there’s more driving this aspect. “From a regulatory perspective,” says Harris, “cleaning the ingredient statement to something more consumer friendly continues to drive organizations to benefit consumers. Utilization of natural flavors and ‘source-first’ ingredients (such as food bases with meat as a primary component) are critical to this movement.” He explains that successfully addressing health and wellness issues means “being able to deliver on flavor expectations without the use of unfriendly ingredients or those with ‘chemical sounding’ elements.”

4. New Delivery Methods

“Being able to deliver flavor in ways not possible in prior years,” says Harris, is key. This means encapsulating flavors to allow depth and layering in profiles and to deliver the flavor at the right time—at the onset, middle or being able to deliver a long lingering note, depending on application. In addition, Harris notes that flavor delivery increasingly must protect flavors during cooking processes. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated and are increasingly aware of individual components within flavors, making flavor protection essential.