Baking up new tastes

by Jeff Gelski
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Choosing a new flavor for a baked food depends on the objective. For example, flavors from butternut squash and ancho chili peppers are potential new tastes in ethnic fare. Dark chocolate from Madagascar and Earl Grey tea are two innovative options for indulgent items.

For ethnic products, Indian and Moroccan trends received acclaim in the presentation "Emerging Flavor Trends" given by Mintel in July at the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo in Chicago.

Indian-inspired sweet baked goods may feature flavors from sweet creams, carrots, sweet potatoes and cinnamon, said Adam Schreier, corporate chef for Mastertaste, Teterboro, N.J.

"Some things we are seeing are savory biscuits or breads that go well with a curry dish, crackers and traditional breads infused with traditional flavors, like flavored Naan bread," said Ronald Spaziani, research chef in savory applications for Mastertaste.

Mastertaste’s Moroccan creations have featured French spices and butternut squash. Since Mastertaste’s ethnic flavors are available either as oil soluble or water soluble, they should work in various baked food applications. For example, the powder form could be incorporated into a dry mix for an ethnic-inspired chip or snack, and an oil-soluble liquid could be mixed into an ethnic-flavored bread, Mr. Spaziani said.

"Since Indian and Moroccan flavors are relatively new to the American consumer, processors may need to ease people into these flavors," Mr. Schreier said. "They can do this by infusing traditional ethnic flavors into applications that consumers are used to, or by combining the more exotic flavors with flavors the average consumer is used to."

U.S. consumers are finding out about flavors from Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. Gold Coast Ingredients, Inc., Commerce, Calif., this year introduced such flavors of Asian origin as azuki bean, yuzu and goji berry. Another new flavor, dragonfruit, is of Central American origin and acai is of South American origin.

Hispanic items remain popular, too. A Mintel survey in 2006 revealed 59% of U.S. adults purchase Hispanic foods.

"Hispanic flavors are especially popular in snack foods right now," Mr. Schreier said. "The big food companies are looking to appeal to this large and growing portion of the population by adapting their products to include traditional Hispanic flavors.

"One aspect of this trend is the products you see on the store shelves that have extreme heat from ingredients like habanero chilis."

Be wary of toning down a flavor’s heat in an ethnic product.

"When developing spicy products, make sure they are spicy to people regularly consuming these products," said Jon Seighman, head of sweet goods application for Givaudan Flavors, Vernier, Switzerland. "If we develop products in the middle, we disappoint those people who like really spicy foods because the food is not spicy enough, and we also disappoint consumers who don’t like spicy foods at all. In effect, we’ve made no one happy."

Switching from ethnic to indulgence, flavors typically found in beverages are appearing in baked foods, said Mastertaste’s Mr. Schreier.

"Coffee-flavored baked goods have been around for a little while, but we are starting to see more exotic flavors that you might not expect to see in a baked good, like chai tea and dulce de leche," he said. "Cinnamon is also popular."

Tea flavors may fit in applications for baked foods such as cookies and snack bars, according to FONA International, Geneva, Ill. Green tea, white tea and Earl Grey often are found in natural, upscale and organic products. Tea flavors may be featured in blends with other flavors such as lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, mint or orange, according to FONA International.

"In the case of upscale products, our task is to make sure the products taste indulgent — but at an affordable price," Mr. Seighman of Givaudan said. "We’ve done extensive marketing and consumer research on the most important bakery flavors: chocolate and vanilla."

The studies included input from Givaudan’s Chef’s Council and consumer sensory studies.

"Chefs universally cited chocolate as the No. 1 dessert menu ‘must have,’" Mr. Seighman said. "Also, the pastry chefs said they are using more specialty, high-end boutique chocolates — especially dark and single-origin chocolates."

Givaduan recently conducted a survey about chocolate with the pastry chefs.

"They told us dark chocolate is preferred in bakery products over milk chocolate and white chocolate," Mr. Seighman said.

Givaudan’s single-origin premium chocolate flavors include Colombian dark chocolate, Madagascar dark chocolate and Ghana dark chocolate.

Firmenich to deliver directly to U.S. customers

PRINCETON, N.J. — Firmenich, Inc. will handle delivery of its flavors to U.S. customers directly beginning Nov. 1 since the company recently acquired Danisco’s flavor division. Firmenich flavors no longer will be distributed by Flavor Savor, Inc., Carol Stream, Ill.

Earlier this year Princeton-based Firmenich signed an agreement to buy Danisco’s flavor division for DKK3.36 billion ($611 million). Danisco and Firmenich have entered a global strategic partnership, according to Danisco.

"It gives us every opportunity to provide complete food solutions while maintaining flexibility for our customers," said Ole Sogaard Andersen, chief sales and application officer at Danisco. "At the same time it is important to emphasize that our customers are free to choose the supplier or solution they want. But our strategic partnership is naturally expected to give our customers a range of benefits through enriched product knowledge and optimized solutions."

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