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By Kantha Shelke, Ingredients Editor | 05/01/2005
|Note to Procurement|
The food industry has changed considerably in the last decade. Downsizing and cost-cutting have shifted much of the scientific research and expertise from food processors to ingredient suppliers. Food developers have come to rely on their suppliers for direction and ideas. Nevertheless, become an expert in your flavor system – understand everything you can about the nuances of the flavor. Chances are that your understanding can contribute to the major discerning difference over other products.
Flavor companies not only know how to apply their flavor compounds but also how to maximize effectiveness and minimize waste. Educate your flavor vendor on the nuances of your plant facilities and help them fine-tune their flavor system for your particular application.
Formulating with new flavors should be highly collaborative, and successful initiatives involve marketers who provide the concept, flavor suppliers who provide the aroma compounds, flavorists who understand the material interactions, product developers who put it all together and plant operators who help ultimately to make the flavor system work.
Understand the impact that the selection of flavor ingredients has on the total product: overall formula cost, ease of incorporation, impact on production processes and impact on the finished product’s nutritional characteristics (calories, fat, protein, fiber). Keep up front the value of your product and brand, rather than looking at simply the cost of one flavor compared to another.
Keep your end-user close at hand, too. Incorporate feedback from consumers to ensure that your product appeals to a wide range of consumers with different tastes. While you and your flavor company can take a new product far, some of the best ideas and solutions come from listening to consumers.
Listen also to retailers and distributors, who are in continuous contact with consumers and often understand consumer behavior and purchasing habits better than anyone else.
When engaging flavor houses, ensure they have knowledgeable research chefs on board with supporting sensory science and food science professionals for accurate nutritional and ingredient analysis and declaration services. If your product is slated for interstate distribution and storage, make sure the flavor house has shelf-life testing and regulatory expertise.
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