Culinar develops fat-reducing food flavour system

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Flavour Nutrition Taste

The demand for low-fat food has significant implications for the
flavour industry, as Culinar technical manager Ian Olof Lundberg
explained last week.

Speaking at Limagrain's Health and Pleasure seminar, he outlined the various challenges facing the flavour sector, as the food industry attempts to tap current consumer healthy eating trends.

Given the subjectivity of taste, the flavour industry must be highly perceptive to regional and generational differences.

"The traditional platform for us is Scandinavia,"​ he said. "Even there, with 20 million people, there is a big difference in flavour perception.

"Also, low fat means different things in different parts of the world. And taste perceptions can change Finland has driven through a programme of lowering the salt content of food, and people are starting to change their tastes accordingly."

In addition, children, who have more taste buds than adults, prefer sweet foods, and our desire for sweet food actually returns as we get older.

But the demand for low fat foods, however, cuts right through most of these regional and generational differences. And if kids don't necessarily want healthier snacks, their parents certainly do.

Lundberg stressed the importance of kokumi as a way of looking at flavour construction, and identifying where fat - and salt - can be taken out.

" There is no easy way of translating this Japanese term,"​ he said. "It represents the separate dimensions in taste and describes taste harmony and richness."

Lundberg also stressed the important role of fat. Flavours are mainly fat-soluble, and manufacturers can capture flavour molecules in the fat in the food. Culinar therefore devised an alternative means of capturing flavours.

"Last year we developed a system that acts like fat in controlling and releasing flavours,"​ he said. "This system is able to keep flavour molecules longer.

"This works. We've now field a patent for this."

In order to get the natural character of a product, flavour notes need to be released at different times. If all the flavour is released immediately, then the product will not taste the same.

"The typical flavour release mechanism of low fat foods is different to the original version, and it is this that makes the product taste artificial,"​ he said.

And as food makers know, no matter how healthy a product is, consumers will not go near something that doesn't taste good.

Culinar's product is not soluble, so it won't work in drinks. But for the snack market, such solutions present the possibility of creating healthier products that taste like the original.

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