Snack Flavor Formulation: New Approaches

Quest International has launched a three-part service to develop new concepts and flavors for the growing snack market. This concept rests on a three-dimensional foundation including market insight, creative flavor creation and application knowledge (especially in the areas of concept development and process technologies, such as marination and double-coating).The idea behind this new approach is to create flavors that stimulate all senses—sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. To do this, Quest conducted market research to identify new lifestyle trends that would inspire the flavor creation process. The lifestyle trends Quest identified include: well-being, pleasure, fusion, comfort and back-to-basics.

“We’ve been able to call on Quest’s dual expertise in both flavor and fragrance,” explained Quest marketing and sales director of savory flavors Jolanda van Haarlem, “to develop an all-inclusive sensory approach to matching these very diverse consumer needs and being able to anticipate them too. It’s not just the old story of focusing on flavor and aroma—snacks appeal to people in far more ways than this, depending on who they are and where they are. That’s why all senses need to be considered in developing a particular new product or line extension.”

Under the slogan “Snacking inspired by life,” the company’s initial theme focus will be on the rapidly growing demands for snacks with a culinary influence. This collection of flavors, called “Snacks à la carte,” ranges from the South African Chakalaka flavor, based on a dish of cooked vegetables combined with sweet and sour spices, to the African Bobotie, a lightly curried, braised mince of lamb with apricot, or Thom Yam Kung, based on a Thai soup of spiced and sour shrimp with coconut milk.

Quick Q&A

P&Fnow: What have been the key market growth factors in the last few years?

van Haarlem: Health, convenience (‘on the go’) and premium (authenticity) are some of the key growth factors we have seen. Most of the reformulations or projects in the pipeline are based on health requirements that are dominating market trends and new developments, ranging from understanding of consumer issues to low fat solutions. They require modifications to the base and the flavor. Reduction in sodium and MSG replacement are also common needs, as is the elimination of artificial flavors in preference of natural flavors.

The main trends in the European market are:

  • Low fat (fewer calories)
  • Low carbohydrates (low GI)
  • Functional food (use of vitamins, minerals, etc.)
  • Natural and organic products
  • Low sodium

P&Fnow: What would you say is the most exciting or unusual development coming through in snacks in Europe?

van Haarlem: We consider the culinary influence on snacks to be the major current development within Europe, for which we have developed a new flavor collection, Snacks à la carte. For example, we have translated the increasingly popular oven roast chicken and thyme flavor in kitchen cooking to a snack flavor.

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