Taste Insights

Understanding taste 

Taste is the number one driver of consumer choice in food and beverages. Understanding how we experience taste is fundamental to unlocking how consumers evaluate and make food choices. So what exactly do we mean by taste?

The key is in the harmonious connection between the culinary arts, the foundation of science and the infusion of cultural, demographic and social influences.

Taste is a powerful and complex thing. It’s not just about flavour, or about sweet, salty, bitter or sour. It’s a multi-sensory human experience – a layered effect of appearance, sound, touch, basic tastes, mouthfeel and aroma – all influenced by our cultures, life stages, individual preferences and mindset.

Kerry's approach to taste

We cover the full spectrum of taste. For starters, we take a holistic approach to building great taste by identifying both the scientific and cultural aspects that make up our taste profiles. With our unrivalled breadth of taste systems, Kerry can tackle the whole taste experience, from the first visual cues through to the satisfying sensation after the last traces of aroma reach the olfactory bulb.

In addition, we take a sensorial approach by connecting the consumers’ taste language to our sensorial methodologies to fulfill and exceed consumer expectations. Our expert panel of sensory scientists combined with our internal consumer panels enable us to speak the language of taste, easily translating this experience from the consumer to our scientists.


At Kerry, we break this experience down into six key elements:

The sizzle of bacon on a hot grill, the crunch of a potato chip, the pop of a champagne cork, the snap of breaking a cookie, the fizz of a sparkling drink. the cues we take from the noise our food makes are fundamental to our perception of the pleasure they will bring. By applying our expertise in cereal systems, proteins, lipids, enzymes, extrusion and other process technologies, Kerry enables our customers’ products to make the right sounds at the right time.

When a consumer sees, for example, a hot chicken wing coated in sticky BBQ sauce, or a beautifully decorated dessert, he or she immediately starts to form a judgement as to what it will taste like, based on past experiences. This anticipation causes us to salivate, which alerts the taste receptors in and around our tongue. Kerry’s range of marinades, glazes, coatings, inclusions and confections are examples of technologies that we design as much for visual appeal as to deliver great flavour.

Our skin is rich in nerve-endings, especially the palm of our hands and fingers. When we pick up a strawberry with our fingers, a slight squeeze is enough to tell us much of what we need to know about its freshness, ripeness, moisture, temperature and other qualities that influence how it will taste. Kerry helps ensure that our customer’s products ‘feel’ right through precise formulation of enzyme, emulsifier and texturant systems for use in liquid, dry, paste, chilled, frozen, ambient formats across multiple applications.

Once food makes contact with the tongue, and the roof and sides of the mouth, our brain can detect very subtle differences in its texture, temperature, moisture level, chewiness, fluidity and astringency. The combination of these characteristics inform our appreciation (or otherwise!) of the food’s taste and thereby influence our future choices. Apart from the mouthfeel properties inherent in the natural extracts, stocks and reductions that we produce to deliver authentic taste, Kerry influences mouthfeel of our customers’ products through our range or protein, texturant, enzyme, fermentation and other functional systems.

Basic Tastes
The sensations of sweetness, saltiness, bitterness and sourness have been broadly understood for more than a century. In more recent times, Umami (associated with lingering savoury ‘deliciousness’) has been formally recognised as the 5th basic taste. The degree to which the taste receptors on our tongues can detect these sensations can vary significantly from person to person, and play a huge role in determining our individual taste preferences. Kerry’s proprietary TasteSense™ perception technologies, along with our natural umami products, are instrumental in providing depth to these 5 basic tastes.

Much of the sensation we perceive to be taste is strongly influenced by what we smell through the nose and the aroma that flows from the inside of the mouth, up through our retro nasal pathway, to the olfactory bulb at the front of our brain. In fact, researchers believe that as much as 75% of taste is experienced through the food’s aroma. This is where Kerry’s expertise in flavour top notes, as well as our natural citrus, vanilla, cocoa, botanical, herbal and vegetable extraction and smoke condensate technologies, really come to the fore.

Evolving taste experiences

We are experts in understanding how taste is created from a culinary perspective, searching the culinary world for the newest and most innovative dishes and flavours. 

We bring new platforms to life by translating the techniques and methods used to create authentic and delicious taste experiences.

As consumers change, so do the foundations of taste. Globalisation, world travel and a changing multi-cultural household are opening up new taste experiences, giving consumers access to a greater variety of flavours and ethnic cuisines than ever before. Almost half of global consumers agree that their taste in food has changed as a result of exposure to foods from other cultures.

We go to great lengths to understand the core foundation from which consumers’ taste experiences are formed, analysing cultural upbringing, life stage and purchase behaviours to deliver on the key areas of the taste experience that resonate most with them.

Key flavour trends and drivers

Today, consumers are looking for great-tasting products created from trusted, authentic and wholesome foods and flavours. And Kerry is in a prime position to deliver on these core attributes.

This extensive approach to taste is grounded in four basic areas:

Pure and simple

Consumers today are taking a proactive approach to their daily food choices and looking for products made from real ingredients. Manufacturers have recognised this consumer demand and are responding by changing formulations, evaluating their sources and moving away from artificial colours and flavours.

According to Mintel in 2015, ‘natural’ has accounted for 25% of all food launches over the past three years. For these self-accountable consumers, we create taste products that are safe, trusted and real.


We provide clean label solutions that are consumer friendly, free from artificial colours and flavours and using trusted and traceable ingredients that are easily recognised.

Three-quarters of Americans believe natural equals healthy, and restaurants are starting to remove unwanted ingredients, artificial flavours and colours, and develop ‘No No’ lists to showcase their commitment to delivering real food made from real ingredients.

Authentic and familiar

Authenticity is critical to delivering a true taste experience. As consumers continue to redefine value, they are willing to search out and pay for products that deliver on these attributes.

According to DataMonitor in 2015, 63% of U.S. consumers are highly influenced by claims of authenticity when purchasing food and drinks. And more than half of consumers globally consider ‘made with natural ingredients’ as the most important factor when considering whether a product is green or sustainable.

For consumers who want comfort, nostalgia and familiarity, we provide taste that delivers wholesomeness and provenance.

We leverage authentic cooking styles to produce great taste. Customers around the world partner with Kerry to develop real, authentic taste experiences akin to the familiar family recipes that were passed down from generation to generation.

Fresh and invigorating

Freshness is a key factor for consumers when choosing their meals. They are changing their behaviours when shopping for products they can make in their home.

The DIY revolution has led to a resurgence of farmers markets in the U.S. as 22% of consumers claim to typically purchase fruits and vegetables at a farmers market and not a grocery store. The revitalisation of age-old practices like canning, pickling and gardening have helped shape the tastes of the future by promoting fresh, authentic and healthy options.

For consumers seeking products with a feel-good factor, we deliver invigorating, revitalising and refreshing taste.

Our tastes are extracted from the purest possible sources – prioritising freshness and authenticity, and bringing a sense of vitality and health wherever they appear.

Pleasure and indulgence 

From admissible luxury and reward to permissible indulgence, we create opportunities for consumers to explore new taste experiences or more indulgent and premium taste options that both nourish and delight.


We are all human. A core driver of being human is the need for indulgence and reward. Consumers are looking for these occasions to enjoy the finer things in life and even if they are small, they want it to be the best with products that deliver on big flavours, with or without the calories.

For consumers who crave premium and/or indulgent experiences, we deliver on-trend, emerging taste profiles that excite and inspire.