Currently in beta and available through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, Mamay’s Taste Gage Sweetness Desktop is the first module in its platform that helps users determine the sensory properties of more than 70 sweeteners in the food and beverage industry, Klein said. Mamay is starting with sweetness first but plans to grow its SaaS platform to include other sensory attributes, he added.
While certain experiences like temperature can be accurately measured and reported on, our sense of taste doesn't have a universal language, which can create obstacles when it comes to developing products in the food and beverage industry, Klein explained. Though tools like GCMS and HPLC can determine the chemical properties in a sample, it doesn’t say anything about the sensory experience, so Mamay created a sensory gauge to annotate the taste experience of what it would be like if you tasted it.
“Our product is a reasonable language; it's a lexicon...We get [our data] from HPLC, GCMS, and this is the input for the system. So how it works, you go to the system put everything you got from the GCMS and HPLC and the pH meter and the brix meter and whatever you can put inside, and we will give you the result like a calculator.”
Using Gage to simulate product development
With the Gage platform, users input the amount of ingredients that they want to test for sweetness and the program assigns it a value in a unit Mamay is calling val. For example, 100 grams of fructose in a volume of 1,000ml has a sweetness of 37 val and two bitterness, Klein explained.
“It's like you want to be a pilot. You can go with planes, or you can go on a simulator. If you go with your plane, it's going to cost $30,000 [and] ... if you go on a simulator, it's going to cost $5,” Klein said. “What we are doing is creating a simulator.”
One val is equivalent to 3-3.4 grams of white sugar or sucrose inside a one-liter bottle of water, Klein said. From there, Mamay built the scale for sweetness, with the same logic applied to other sensory attributes like taste, odor, feel and more. The next module for Mamay’s Taste Gage will be saltiness, and by the end of the year, Klein also hopes to add all taste sensations to the platform.
With this information, CPG brands and product developers can run simulations to determine the sweetness of a product (and other attributes as they become available) without having to mix it in the lab, Klein explained. And Mamay has already used its platform to help create a new sugar for a food ingredient company, he added.
The expanding frontier of digital food, beverage development
While digital tools have become an increasingly important aspect to food and beverage development across the product creation cycle—from Givaudan’s AI-based Customer Foresight platform to alt meat and dairy brand NotCo using AI to create its range of products—Klein doesn’t see them as a threat but rather a tool that can assist in creation process.
“When print became digital, so many things happened...but we see that prints still lives,” Klein said. “So, I'm not going to think that it's going to change everything, but it's for sure going to be very important...for the companies that are developing food.”