Symrise reveals multiple facets of science-powered flavour creation

An essay focusing on the Symrise Research & Technology (R&T) department in the Taste, Nutrition & Health segment explains the blend of scientific, technological and human factors that power flavour creation.

Symrise says it supports its customers by delivering consumer-preferred products. This involves proprietary technologies and human skills. To shed light on the creation of taste solutions, Symrise has conducted interviews with members of its R&T department. It has summarised its findings in an essay to share with its customers.

The essay explains what defines a ‘flavour creation’: it takes a combination of research and technology, as well as raw materials with natural authenticity as an essential factor. This supports today’s consumers wish to know what their food and beverages contain, where they come from and how manufacturers produce them.

“The overall process of creating a flavour forms a highly complex task. It involves many different technologies and processes. We like to compare it to the different instruments in an orchestra contributing to an enjoyable piece of music. In this essay, our R&T colleagues explain how they create their own very special harmony. They are revealing some of the secrets behind taste solutions”, said Dr Katharina Reichelt, director functional flavour solutions, R&T Taste, Nutrition & Health at Symrise.

“Science-powered flavour creation” begins when the R&T department receives a project brief with defined objectives and characteristics. It then works towards the end goal to provide its customer with a consumer-preferred solution that meets their particular specifications. This may involve creating a completely new solution or reconstructing an existing taste.

“We start the process by decoding the inherent principles of a sample that meets some of the characteristics requested by the customer. This helps us to get to know the taste actives and sensory key drivers. We also learn, which ingredients play a relevant role for the flavour. For this, we use human senses in synergy with technology,” explained Dr. Katharina Reichelt.

Key technologies, such as LC-Taste (liquid chromatography – taste) and GC-O (gas chromatography – olfactometry) combine chemical separation methods with sensory analysis, while trained experts identify, which ingredients impart the different tastes and smells. Symrise uses artificial intelligence to assist flavour creators, with proprietary digital tools like predictive modelling. They help screen the existing Symrise portfolio and find suitable ingredients that the experts can use to create a flavour.

‘Real life’ behaviour also forms an important part in the performance of a flavour. Factors such as saliva and mouth temperature can substantially affect taste. For this reason, R&T uses close-to-nature technologies such as an artificial mouth model to gain important information about how a flavour behaves.

Equipped with an ingredient list created by these chromatographic analyses, sensory, predictive modelling, artificial mouth model and authenticity tests, the flavour creators can start to create the flavour. Finding a 100% match takes some manual fine-tuning of ingredients by flavourists, who can access a library of valuable innovative ingredients that constantly evolves as new natural raw materials are identified.

“Of course, before we can use a newly developed flavour, we need to know how it develops over time and under different environmental influences. We use proprietary technology to conduct accelerated stability tests, predict shelf life and assess behaviour under variable conditions such as temperature and humidity. Only after another round of sensory testing, we will incorporate the taste in an end product application. After that, we ask a panel of consumers to test it and to give their own feedback,” said Sylvia Barnekow, director food & science application technology, R&T Taste, Nutrition & Health at Symrise.

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