The games change, but the rules of flavoring stay the same. In other words, every food matrix is unique, and every flavor type is unique. What might work as a chicken flavor for a soup might not work as a chicken flavor for a baked, handheld pastry. However, flavor experts now know how to find the common ground between flavor and applications to achieve a winning product.
ImpaQ Taste Technology[tm] flavors represent a combination of creativity and flavor expertise. They are a set of flavor profiles for food and beverage matrices best used in low-sugar, -salt and -fat food environments.
“Quest has spent 10 years specifically looking at the particular challenge of making healthful food matrices more delicious,” says Eric Spenske, marketing director at Quest International BV (The Netherlands). ImpaQ is the result of a long-term R&D program by Quest to identify how its flavors can solve taste issues. This flavor solution technology is based on fundamental research in meat bouillons and mature cheeses, the discovery of new flavor ingredients and applications expertise. Since 1999, Quest has had over 25 flavor ingredients approved for FEMA GRAS status and has submitted over 35 flavor-related patents connected with this work. The research gave new insights into how to use flavors to influence perceptions of taste--that is the basis of the ImpaQ Taste Technology approach.
R&D, flavor chemistry and applications are the key components that make a marketed flavor unique. “If a flavor company doesn't have those three [components in an ingredient], they don't have a reason to brand a flavor solutions launch,” says Spenske. “We've chosen to market ImpaQ because of the work that went into all three areas.”
By leveraging application expertise, Quest has created a range of customized flavors engineered by utilizing a flavor creation protocol standardized to a low-sugar, -fat or -salt environment. ImpaQ is used at levels similar to other flavors and is suitable for all applications. Before creating a flavor that will fit under the ImpaQ brand name, Quest's R&D staff tries to get a thorough understanding of what is contained in the base (or food product) where the flavor is to be used. For example, Quest applications experts need to know how much sodium or potassium is in the base or what the matrix of the product should look like. “Working with the customer's base is the best route to quick development success,” says Spenske.
The range of ImpaQ Taste Technology flavors enables food producers, for the first time, to dramatically reduce levels of sodium, fat and sugar in foods and beverages. For example, in some instances, sodium can be reduced by as much as 50%--without compromising on the taste, says Quest.
“We are not attempting to replace salt. We use the flavors to maintain the taste integrity, and compensate for the lack of salt,” explains Spenske.
“In low-sodium environments, we have had excellent results from consumer tests, which have shown no difference in preference between a reduced product using ImpaQ technology and its normal level equivalent,” explains Harry Renes, Quest's executive flavorist.
Application trials in broader applications--such as bitter masking--are underway. Each flavor solution is tailored to the specific application to maximize taste performance.