Today’s beverage formulators often focus on flavor and nutrition without giving much initial thought to texture. After all, it’s just a liquid. If it flows, all’s good.
This conclusion could not be any further from the truth. In fact, texture consideration must go hand-in-hand with flavor and nutrition development, as texturants are necessary to emulsify and suspend other ingredients in the beverage system. They also affect various sensory attributes, which influences consumer acceptability.
“Texture is a vital component of formulation development, as it not only affects how a beverage will feel in the mouth when consumed, but it also plays a role in flavor delivery and visual appeal,” said Karen Silagyi, product manager, TIC Gums Inc., White Marsh, Md.
Beverage texture considerations include rheological properties such as viscosity, as well as appearance and drinking sensation. This includes how the beverage appears when it’s being poured. Is it smooth or lumpy, thick or thin? Does it coat the bottle or leave any discoloration? How do the taste buds respond during initial contact? Does the beverage leave a coating in the mouth? All of these attributes may be manipulated through the use of texturants.
“Texturants are used in beverages for a number of reasons, but mainly to deliver the required consumer sensation throughout the entire shelf life of the product,” said Ross White, applications manager-Americas, FMC Health and Nutrition, Philadelphia. “Texture is critical in beverage applications and works closely with appearance and taste to achieve the overall consumer experience.”
When texturants are not included in the initial product development stages, there are often issues with ingredients separating or not maintaining a uniform suspension.
“This is usually the result of improper texturant usage, whether too much or too little was added or the ingredient was incorporated incorrectly,” Mr. Ross said. “For example, adding the incorrect level of certain texturants can change your chocolate milk into chocolate pudding, which might sound delightful to consumers but can be a processing nightmare. We also see concerns of the beverage gelling during the cooling process, and have found that this usually happens when either too much of a stabilizing ingredient has been added or the filling temperature is too high.”