Bell shares how flavor enhancers can address tomato, orange shortages

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image Credit: Getty Images -
Image Credit: Getty Images -

Related tags Flavor Sustainability

CPG companies facing supply-chain disruptions like a poor crop yield can leverage flavor enhancers to deliver great tasting, cheaper, and more sustainable products, Joan Harvey, company senior VP commercial GM of flavor division at Bell, told Food Navigator-USA.

Flavor enhancers to address tomato, citrus shortages

Bell’s flavor enhancers can be used to improve or mask the sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness of a flavor and can fill in for ingredients that might have hit supply-chain challenges. 

For instance, the US might experience a tomato shortage due to oversaturated fields from record rainfall in California, which can impact canned tomato products and prices. Flavor extenders can be used in tomato products as an extender to replace 10-40% of solids and extend natural tomato soluble solids in tomato sauce by 31% for sauces or drum-dried tomato powder in seasoning, Bell shared​. 

Citrus also faces challenges in the US due to the prevalence of citrus greening. CPG brands can re-create the taste of orange juice with citrus flavor enhancers, working around the challenges of citrus greening and creating a more sustainable product, Harvey said. 

“The price of orange oils are going up, and that's not just cold-pressed oranges, but anything that's folded. The more you fold in oil, it takes away the terpenes, so that it's more water-soluble, but the flavor also changes... With greening, it's giving you more green notes in the orange profile, so it's less orangey, juicy, fresh, and the aldehyde contents are going down.” 

CPG brands have to consider how their use might impact the finished product and whether consumers would accept a product with the With Other Natural Flavors (WONF) claim, Harvey noted.  

"If I have orange oil plus [natural non-​orange] oil-derived products, it becomes a WONF. So, if you're okay with that, ... I say easy enough to enhance it," Harvey said. "It could deliver cost savings; it could improve the product taste. But it's all about education ... because a lot of people that use natural products only, they may not want the WONF if it's an orange product, but it still has orange in it."

Natural flavors are growing, but are they more sustainable? 

Bell also has continued to focus on natural and organic flavors, and “clean label is definitely here to stay," Harvey said. 

Harvey added, “Natural definitely grew; organic is growing every day. Bell is a certified organic manufacturing site, so we offer a line of organic flavors, and a lot of flavor houses only offer organic certifiable.” 

Similar to how some consumers might be hesitant about WONF products, Harvey sees an opportunity for the flavor and larger food and beverage industry to educate consumers on the importance of synthetic flavor ingredients and how they can be used to boost sustainability. 

“People want sustainable flavors, but sustainable flavors does not necessarily mean natural. So, what does that mean to the consumer? Are they going to become more accepting of using artificial, or do we have to think more about our raw materials coming out of fermentation and biotech and things like that? ... It's about educating.”  

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