Putting the Flavor in Functional Foods

The events of the past year have prompted consumers to seek food and beverage choices that will help keep them healthy and support their immune systems. Working from home, eating out less, and preparing meals in their kitchen has also helped people take a deeper interest in what they consume.

In fact, a 2020 survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported that 85% of Americans adjusted their eating habits during and in the wake of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Functional foods such as heat and eat bowls, protein bars and shakes, and food products loaded with immunity-boosting ingredients provided the perfect answer to a population with a growing obsession with health.

However, the success of functional products still boils down to one essential factor: they have to taste good. You could develop the healthiest menu selections on the planet, but if the flavor notes are off, your products will remain on grocery market shelves.

Fortunately, discovering new, unique ways to deliver exciting flavors with your functional food and beverage products is easier than ever, giving your company a competitive edge in the marketplace. 

Flavor Trends For 2021 With Functional Food

Over the last few decades, consumers have enjoyed unprecedented access to international cuisine. Western food products have long been fused with flavorful regional selections such as chilis and peppers from the Mediterranean, Latin America, and Asia to expand at-home meal options. These flavor-inspired dishes have become even more trendy due to the growing increase of at-home cooking shows.

Food companies can also take advantage of seasonal cravings customers like to indulge in, such as smoked spices and “pumpkin everything” during the cooler months and tropical fruit pairings when the weather turns warmer. 

For consumers focused on food with immunity-boosting properties, citrus fruits have long been associated with health and deliver a fresh, clean taste in functional beverages. Mixing berries that have antioxidant properties will also continue to be popular with health-conscious customers. Food producers can also use tea tree, clove, garlic, peppermint, cinnamon, and other earthy ingredients that contain anti-microbial properties to enhance popular flavors while promoting well-being.

There’s never a wrong time to introduce a new taste variant to your products, but these days, when people are feeling especially nostalgic for “normal” times, classic flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, and peanut butter are growing again in popularity. Being creative and fun is great, as long as we don’t lose sight of the basics.

Creating Custom Flavor Profiles

Ben & Jerry’s is famous for creating unique flavors with catchy titles that, in many cases, reflect the current events of the time (remember “Cherry Garcia”?). Your food and beverage products can also have unique flavor profiles of their very own to set your brand apart from your competitors.

For many companies, the trick is coming up with that distinct flavor. Creating new tastes is an exciting proposition, but introducing something fresh to your customers can be as easy as simply revamping an existing formula. For example, you can add natural top notes to an already-popular flavor or add dry ingredients to spice things up. 

Developing the proper ratio of multiple ingredients for a new taste can take time and effort to find the best combination. Unless you have a dedicated in-house flavor laboratory, partnering with a trusted flavor specialist will help make the research and development phase much easier

Masking Unwanted Flavor Notes In Functional Food

Today’s consumers continue to look for products that contain additional protein. Dairy protein contains all nine essential amino acids required to support heart health, build strength, heal muscle, and more. 

As beneficial protein is to help protect our overall health and well-being, it tastes terrible on its own. By using specialized masking agents, flavor formulators can help block unwanted flavor notes from dairy and plant proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and more.

Masking agents, also known as bitter blockers, give your applications a neutral starting point where you can begin to add the flavor mixes you want your customers to experience. They can also be used to enhance flavors and reduce harsh notes for a cleaner aftertaste.

Partner With Professional Flavor Specialists

This new approach to nutrition has helped fuel the rise of functional food in the market. People are reading nutrition labels more and are willing to pay a premium for food and beverage products that will help boost their immune systems, provide muscle support, and give them the vitamins and minerals they need to ward off viruses.

Contact Osage flavors when you’re ready to explore new flavors that will entice consumers to your food and nutritional products. We use a comprehensive process that includes recipe development, sensory analysis, and shelf-life testing, giving your products a diverse range of superior quality flavors. We’ll also help you create your own unique formulation for that standout flavor that sets your products apart.

Get in touch with us today to learn more about our customized flavor solutions. We’re always happy to answer all of your questions and send you a free sample