Bell pepper
Bell pepper is an example of a natural flavor that is difficult to develop.

Recent roll-outs

As flavorists gain access to more raw materials and advanced technologies, suppliers are expanding their natural flavors portfolio. Many next-generation natural flavors are proving to be as stable and as cost effective as other flavoring ingredients.

Standardized spice and herb liquid extracts may provide a more consistent, microbial-stable flavor profile than many other naturally sourced dry spice and herb powders, said Gary Augustine, executive director — market development, Kalsec, Kalamazoo, Mich. The company has expanded its natural spice and herb flavor extract product line with novel blends and ethnic flavor combinations. This includes expeller-pressed product extracts.

“Most recently we added a range of natural craft beer-type flavors for food applications,” Mr. Augustine said. “They are made with our hop oil, and flavor profiles include IPA, lemon shandy, porter, pumpkin and wheat.”

The flavors are easier to work with than using real beer, as they are heat and retort stable. Applications include batters, cheeses, dressings, prepared meals, sauces, soups, and meat and poultry products.

To appeal to consumer interest in spicier flavors, Kalsec has added green Hatch and aji Amarillo to its portfolio of natural specialty pepper flavor extracts. Again, the extracts are more efficient than adding real peppers.

Oftentimes natural flavors are used in combination with food ingredients to enhance the flavor. Or they are used to replicate a food flavor in an alternative format.

For example, Synergy Flavors recently developed a natural sugarplum flavor. The company’s culinary team has used it to create a complex flavor of sweet and fruity in beverages and baked foods.

Flavorchem now offers a natural cinnamon churro-type flavor. The traditional churro is a fried pastry that is garnished with sugar and sometimes chocolate sauce. It is served in Mexican restaurants and food carts on the streets of Mexico City.

Prepared foods may benefit from the addition of natural flavors. They can deliver more pronounced aromas with lingering taste. This is particularly true with savory flavors such as beef, chicken and pork.

“The majority of our savory flavors have always been natural, so we’ve been a bit ahead of the curve with this trend,” said Roger Lane, marketing manager — savory flavors, Sensient Flavors, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

The company recently introduced natural gochujang, roasted ginger, and wasabi flavors. There’s also a new range of natural smokeless smoke flavors.

One of Sensient Flavors’ newest offerings is a collection of allergen-free nut flavors. Applications include ice cream variegates, baked foods, granola, coffee syrups and any other foods that can benefit from a brown, nutty flavor without requiring actual nut pieces.

Gold Coast Ingredients, Commerce, Calif., continues to expand its collection of natural cake flavors. Recent introductions include almond amaretto, banana upside down, butter, chai latte, cinnamon roll and strawberry champagne.

“We also have new natural cereal flavors with various profiles, including fruity, chocolate, corn flakes and cinnamon,” said Megan Trent, marketing representative. “Both the cake and cereal flavors complement baked goods, protein beverages, bars and other snack foods.”

On a savory note, Gold Coast continues to develop natural dairy-free/allergen-free cheese flavors. Popular flavor profiles include blue, cheddar, goat, gorgonzola, Gouda and Parmesan, Gouda.

“As time progresses, the number and variety of natural flavor options will grow,” Ms. Trent said. “New flavor combinations will arise, while complex food dishes and indulgent treats will be transformed into powder and liquid flavoring ingredients. Natural flavor profiles will become more descriptive and creative to further innovate in the food and beverage industry.”

Mr. Lombardo said, “Innovation in extraction technologies will lead the way to more variety in natural flavors that are true to the source. Millennials seek authenticity and clean labels in food and beverage products. This is one way that we can provide that kind of transparency.”