Fixing Texture and Taste During Reformulation

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To address mouthfeel and taste challenges, manufacturers are relying on taste modulators and texturants such as hydrocolloids and emulsifiers

KerryDigest Fast Facts:
  • Better-for-you products are trending, but when fat, salt or sugar are reduced or removed from a food or beverage, texture, taste and mouthfeel can change.
  • During reformulation, products that add back and otherwise address these changes may need to be included.
  • Texturants such as hydrocolloids and emulsifiers can stabilize or thicken a variety of products.
  • Taste modulators can improve mouthfeel and texture while also building back taste.
  • This article gives an overview of each, including common applications.
KerryDigest Full Scoop:

Consumers expect products to taste and feel as rich, creamy and silky as ever, even with the movement toward clean label and better-for-you. However, when fat, salt and sugar are reduced or removed, new problems can develop, including compromised stability and changes in taste, texture and mouthfeel. As a result more brands undergoing reformulation are turning to food hydrocolloids and taste modulators to stabilize and balance their products while maintaining texture, taste and mouthfeel. Here we explore why this is necessary, along with three of the most effective solutions.

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The Link Between Texture and Taste

If consumers believe taste is the most important characteristic of a food or beverage, texture may be a close second. Just as our flavor labs have a flavor lexicon dedicated to talking about taste, our sensory labs have a texture lexicon to help describe a product’s mouthfeel. Together, these qualities contribute to a person’s overall satisfaction with a product.

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Unfortunately, both taste and texture are at risk during reformulation, which adds a layer of challenge to the process. Take chocolate milk, for example. When sugar and fat are removed, the product will taste less sweet and rich and may be thinner or less viscous. A first response may be to add alternate sweeteners or flavors, but these may produce off-notes and won’t increase the thickness or improve the texture. This can necessitate the incorporation of multiple products or a product designed to target more than one taste and texture challenge.

An Intro to Food Hydrocolloids

To solve for the texture challenges that come from reduction sugar or fat in a product, some reformulations call for food hydrocolloids. These are multifunctional ingredients that can stabilize, thicken and even add soluble fiber to products. Hydrocolloids are often made from clean label raw materials. When added to liquid, a hydrocolloid will increase its viscosity. This can help stabilize color and flavor in beverages, supply texture in dressings and sauces and increase water retention in products such as packaged meats.

Hydrocolloids can also stabilize high-protein food and beverage applications, ensuring emulsion stability and texture consistency throughout shelf-life. Some interact synergistically to impart unique mouthfeel and taste delivery characteristics. Hydrocolloids have also been used to compensate for reduced sweetness in applications such as indulgent desserts and yogurt-type products through the delivery of a creamy texture.

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Hydrocolloid and Emulsifier Texture Systems

Although hydrocolloids solve some texture challenges, they may need to be used in conjunction with other products. Hydrocolloids used with emulsifiers can help with emulsion stability and texture consistency. Such texture systems include a carefully developed blend of emulsifiers, hydrocolloids and specifically selected functional ingredients. These products can be added to dairy and non-dairy applications including milk-based beverages, ice cream, yogurt, aerated desserts, whipped toppings and cream, confectionery such as marshmallows and jellies, fruit preparations, sweet sauces and savory sauces and dressings.

Changing Taste and Texture with Taste Modulators

Taste modulators increase the perception of sweetness, saltiness or richness, and some build back the body and mouthfeel that can be lost when sugar, salt or fat are reduced. These solutions were developed to optimize taste and nutrition in a variety of products, and are popular in sugar sweetened beverages and goods such as soups.

Our application experts can offer advice on ingredient combinations for your specific needs, drawing on our industry-leading product portfolio. To learn more about formulating with hydrocolloids and taste modulation ingredients, contact Kerry.

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