Consumers are “trending down” on protein-based, center-of-the plate foods. This has led to smaller portions; less expensive cuts of meat (that are likely less tender); and alternatives in grain- and dairy-based entrées, with the casual, part-time vegetarian emerging as a mainstay. Health is key, yet authentic taste must still deliver. A quest for clean labels is still driven by consumer demand. Emmanuel Laroche, vice president, Marketing & Sensory Consumer Science Department, Flavor & Nutrition Division North America, Symrise Inc., says many consumers are consistently adapting healthier eating habits. “They are reading labels with a great deal of care and concern, because they are well aware of the benefits of better nutritional choices. In doing so, they are rethinking the ingredients found in processed foods, looking for protein alternatives that do not compromise nutrition or taste.”

Applications manager James Lamkey, Ph.D., said there has been double-digit growth in the interest of natural ingredients over the last year: “Even as current economic conditions and the interaction of regulatory agencies slow down this growth, we anticipate that clean labels will continue to be relevant. In this area, Symrise is currently focused on adopting natural technology to present cleaner labels to consumers.”

Lamkey also referred to scientific evidence that points to recommendations for substantial reduction in salt intake. “In meat formulations, the impact of this reduction on texture, shelflife and overall flavor enhancement is a serious consideration. Symrise’s captive chemistry for salt replacement, KCl masking and receptor technology is being employed to achieve salt-reduction solutions, while still maintaining clean labels and neutral flavor.”

The smart approach to protein strategy means considering natural and low-sodium ingredients; improved palatability of lower grades of beef; vegetarian alternatives; and liquid seasonings. For manufacturers, an ability to test innovative new product development that meets those needs is key for success.

Symrise’s latest Technical & Culinary Center facility for Protein Foods, which debuted in December 2008, is staffed with professional savory team culinarians who further explore and develop products, such as naturally-cured ham, vegetarian “krab,” flavor-enhanced, sodium-reduced chicken thighs, as well as improved palatability for tender, juicy, lower quality beef cuts. Says Lamkey, “In most cases, our test batch activities at the center can make an easy transition to our customers’ production facilities.” Laroche concludes, “We have evolved as a flavor supplier, investing in resources that ensure our customers are getting the products and services that exceed their expectations. Increasingly, our customers recognize that we are living our tagline: ‘always inspiring more.’” pf
--Lauren Swann, Contributing Editor

For more information:
Symrise Inc. * Teterboro, N.J.
Emmanuel Laroche * 201-462-2389 *