Consumers are looking for simpler ingredient declarations. They want fewer ingredients that are more familiar and less “chemically” derived. 

Natural essences accomplish just that. Where a natural flavor might be assembled from the 75 most prevalent natural components in a taste profile, a natural essence is derived from the product itself, meaning that with roasted coffee beans as the source, a coffee essence will contain all 500+ natural chemicals components that can be found in the roasted bean. It is not assembled. It is captured.

Essences provide multiple benefits. They provide unsurpassed “fresh” notes that complement and improve natural flavors in food and beverages that may be minimized by age and processing. Secondly, natural essences help formulators simplify ingredient declarations to meet today’s consumer needs.

There are two common ways to collect an essence. The first involves collected condensate from the evaporation/concentration of a product (most commonly fruit juices).  As the single-strength juice goes through the first stage of the evaporator, water is converted to the gas stage and then condensed. This converts water vapor back into the liquid phase. 

Along with the water, aroma compounds vaporize and then are condensed with the water.  The condensed water takes on the aroma from the juice. Orange, apple and similar juices with large concentrate markets produce large volumes of essences. Once collected they are further processed to produce stronger essences.  An advantage of this method is that the essence is a by-product and with large processed quantities also helps to reduce ingredient costs.

A second method (utilized by Synergy Flavors) uses equipment to capture aroma from the beginning of the process (vs concentrate at the end of the process). This is achieved by creating a thin film of material along with a counter current of steam, which is then condensed.  The advantage of this method is a short residence time thus capturing the products “fresh” character and reducing the off aromas.

Both methods have a few characteristics in common, which are ideal for clean label use. First, is simplicity. The process simply drives water and aroma to the gas phase and then uses a condenser to condense it.  Anyone who has boiled water and seen condensation on the lid understands this concept.  Consumers wouldn’t know the specifics of how essences are made, but the use of the term in the ingredient declaration of “essence” (e.g. “cucumber essence”), certainly conveys a simple process. 

Consumers realize this term designates that the product is FTNF (from the named food). 

Another way that essences convey simplicity is the fact they would not have to be listed in the ingredient declaration.   Essences are permitted to be called “natural flavor” under 21 CFR 101.22(a)(3), which outlines “The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive….”

Consequently, when a product contains both a natural flavor and an essence, there’s no need or reason to list the essence separately.

The second scenario whereby essences do not need to be listed separately on the ingredient statement is by a processor following “juice add-back” rules.  In 21 CFR 101.30(b)(3) it says, “…when the presence of the non-juice ingredient(s) is declared as a part of the statement of identity of the product, this phrase need not accompany the 100% juice declaration,” which means that if a processor has a juice concentrate—and an essence from that juice—the essence need not be declared separately.

Considering that consumers are looking for clean label products, product developers should pay particular attention to essences. These all natural ingredient address all the basic elements of creating a clean label. 


For more information:

Synergy Flavors, Inc.
1500 Synergy Drive, Wauconda, IL 60084
(847) 487-1011  •