Encapsulation of flavors and fragrances is a common practice, normally rooted in the need to protect product quality in an often-hostile setting. At the most basic level, encapsulation involves surrounding active molecules with a layer of material that prevents their release, as well as the penetration of environmental factors, until desired. Thus, the goal is to maintain the flavor or fragrance in pristine condition until such time as it is liberated from the product and subsequently perceived by the consumer (Figure 1).
Reality may at times fall a bit short of this idealized view, but there are a number of classes of foods and personal careproducts on the market that are made possible only via the knowledgeable application of encapsulation technology. As consumer product companies strive to provide increasingly unique, convenient, healthy, and cost-effective offerings, the need to integrate delivery systems with all types of active ingredients—including flavors and fragrances—continues to grow.
While certain products cannot be effectively produced or distributed without some sort of delivery system playing an integral role, in others there is a choice to be made between encapsulated and neat active materials. Normally, this trade-off involves not just product-quality considerations, but also processing, packaging and distribution variables. Whatever the case, there is still a need to minimize costs and select among the viable encapsulation alternatives. Often, multiple systems are available that can possibly satisfy the technical requirements of the application. Knowledge of how various factors effect the ultimate delivered cost of the flavor or fragrance can help focus the product developer and encapsulation specialist on technologies that meet economic targets as well.