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Synthesizing Strawberry Furanone

Contact Author Gang Liu, Ph.D., r&d director, Oamic Biotechnology and Jaco Zeevaart, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, Oamic U.S.A.
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Strawberry furanone is one of the most important aroma compounds and is used in a wide range of flavors for both food and beverages.

Strawberry furanone (2,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxy-3[2H]-furanone) is one of the most important aroma compounds in the flavor industry where it is used in a wide range of foods and beverage flavors. The molecule has been identified in fruits such as pineapple, strawberry, raspberry, mango, arctic bramble, grapefruit and tomato, and various thermally processed foods such as cooked beef, ham, coffee and roasted filberts. Firmenich originally patented and commercialized this molecule under the trademarked name Furaneol. This article reviews the various production routes and offers considerations for flavorists, buyers and quality-control managers when evaluating product offerings.

Due to its popularity and high demand, the commercial production of strawberry furanone has been the subject of considerable study in recent years. While this valuable flavor ingredient is available in both synthetic and natural qualities, this article will only focus on the production of the synthetic material, and hence does not include fermentation and Maillard reaction-based routes.

Despite many patents and papers describing different processes to obtain strawberry furanone, there are four commercial routes accounting for most of the synthetic products on the market. In this paper, we will briefly review these four processes to create a better understanding of how this indispensable raw material of the flavor industry is being produced.

Acetylene-acetaldehyde Process

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The first known commercial route utilized production process shown in F-1. The process relies on the acid catalyzed cyclization of the symmetrical 2,5-dihydroxyhexane-3,4-dione, which itself was derived from hexyne-2,5-diol.

F-1. Acetylene-acetaldehyde process

For the full article, please check out the Perfumer & Flavorist+ May 2021 issue.