EUROPE – Bell Flavors & Fragrances has launched a portfolio of functional flavors to aid European manufacturers in mitigating specific off-notes, while creating a more neutral and appealing sensory profile in plant-based foods.

Plant proteins often generate unwanted bitter or beany off-notes or lack specific sensory attributes, making them less appealing for consumers.

To address this problem, experts from Bell identified the potential off-tastes of various protein sources, including soy, wheat, pea, rice, oat, almond and coconut.

Primary focuses were studying the ingredients’ organoleptic effects on taste and other characteristics, including texture and mouthfeel.

Bell’s team of flavorists and sensory experts then investigated specific flavors that help achieve rounded taste characteristics, such as full-bodied umami, meaty notes or creamy profiles.

They then developed a new range of functional food flavours under the Plant Future portfolio to help enhance the flavour profile of plant-based dairy, meat and fish alternatives.

“We aim to provide functional flavor solutions based on the respective off-tastes of the various plant protein sources,” noted Agneta Hoffmann, marketing manager of flavors at Bell.

“In the case of oat drinks, for example, our masking flavor highlights the creaminess, the milky taste and adds a slight sweetness.”

Targeting the growing market for plant-based high protein and sports nutrition products, Bell is also focusing on delivering authentic and natural masking profiles for high protein powder shakes and high protein bars.

Bell’s regional organizations further comprise a range of vegan flavor varieties for the US market, as well as Canada and Latin America.

A natural blue that could replace artificial colors found

Meanwhile, a research funded by American multinational confectionary giant Mars has discovered a natural blue that could replace artificial colors.

The research findings published in the Science Advances journal noted that a pigment found in red cabbage could be used to make a long-lasting and stable natural blue color for food.

“We used synthetic biology and computational design tools to determine the structure of the anthocyanin, which, thanks to its unique 3D inter-molecular arrangement, can be altered to produce a rare natural cyan blue color,” explains Rebecca Robbins, Mars Wrigley Senior Principal Scientist.

Until the Mars funded research delivered its results, there was no known natural replacement for blue. This presented many challenges for many food companies in their quest to move toward natural colors.

Robbins however notes that the new colour provides a natural alternative to artificial colorants, and a solution to the long-standing blue dye challenge facing the food industry.

While this research is groundbreaking and could represent the beginning of a sea change in natural colors in food, there is still quite a lot that needs to be done before this blue makes it to the market.

For instance, while the color is relatively stable in lab circumstances, its ability to maintain its hue in products including candies, ice cream and baked goods needs to be tested.

The color also needs to undergo proper vetting and regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration and other national governmental entities to ensure its safety.

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