Home cooking shapes today’s flavor expectations, especially for savory flavors, according to Bio Springer’s Claude-Emilie Martimbeau. Also, the continuing demand for foods that promote health and wellness throws the focus onto flavors that boost the appeal of lower-sodium foods, including snacks — aka “fourth meal.” Mr. Martimbeau offered his insight to readers of Baking & Snack's Formulations Update as part of an exclusive series.

Baking & Snack: What consumer trends favor the use of savory flavors in baked foods and snacks where they previously have not been applied?

Due to growing economic restraints and consumers’ financial limitations to eat out, more and more consumers are cooking at home and looking for easy snack and meal ideas. Consumers are more likely to take snacks and beverages from the home to events instead of purchasing. The largest growing segment are Gen-Yers and the most likely to prepare meals at home. Some agree the Gen-Yers will drive the consumption of salt/savory snacks, easy meals, center-of-the-plate proteins, sweet/snacks and desserts and heat-and-eat breakfasts.

Snacks have evolved into the fourth meal of the day for consumers. With 21% of all meals being reported as snacks (NPD Group), consumers want snacks that can please their need for indulgence but also provide health benefits.

We at Bio Springer are seeing more and more demand for our yeast extracts due to the increasing demand in the snack industry for reduced sodium, monosodium glutamate (MSG) replacement, clean label and natural products. Our yeast extracts are low sodium, natural and clean label, which makes them an ideal solution for these types of projects.

What are the most significant savory flavors for the baking and snack categories?

We have had several requests for our cheese profile yeast extract, Springarom CH 7012. It is a heat-stable yeast-based flavor that works well in snacks and bakery applications such as popcorn, chips, muffins, cakes, etc. It enhances the cheese profile in the finished product and adds an umami impact and long-lasting flavor in the mouth.

We also have several requests for our umami-rich yeast extracts. They work very well in low-sodium or MSG-free applications to enhance the flavors in the finished product. They are also natural and clean label, which is why they are in such demand for current projects such as MSG replacement.

Where are trends or new concepts in savory flavors coming from?

The reduced-sodium trend is coming from the regulations suggested by the government to lower sodium in finished products due to the health issues resulting from high-sodium diets.

The MSG replacement, clean label and natural trends are coming from consumers who prefer to eat products with ingredients they recognize and can find in their pantry. Consumers are seeking clean label, healthy ingredients. In 2010, Nielsen reported sales of foods/beverages without preservatives topped $14.5 billion in 2009; products with a natural claim reached $22 billion.

What new products are being introduced? Are there particular segments of the food industry that generate more items using savory flavors than others?

Our cheese profile yeast extract, Springarom CH 7012, was introduced in the past year to respond to the high demand for a cheese flavor enhancer. We also introduced a cocoa flavor enhancer this fall in response to increasing costs of cocoa powder and the limited availability of this commodity.

Seasonings for snacks and sauces generate a higher demand for savory flavors. The soups and sauces and the prepared meals segments also generate a high demand for savory flavors, especially for clean label flavors.