Answering the needs of the evolving plant-based food and beverage market, Bell Flavours & Fragrances EMEA has launched a portfolio of functional and characteristic flavours to help manufacturers overcome challenges in product development and improve the overall taste profile of plant-based alternatives. With its product range,Bell aims to provide clean label taste solutions for meat and fish alternatives as well as dairy alternatives and plant-based high protein products for the European market.
Targeting major challenges of plant-based alternatives The global plant-based food market is seeing a rapid expansion, driven by consumer’s growing health consciousness and changing lifestyle habits. A majority of consumers further considers the taste of a plant-based product as crucial. Natural product options with appealing flavour characteristics are key. However, creating a well-balanced plantbased product formulation is providing many challenges for manufacturers. Some plant proteins generate unwanted bitter or beany off-notes or lack specific sensory attributes, making them less appealing for consumers. While mimicking the classic taste profiles of their animal-based counterparts is highly appreciated among meat and fish substitutes, dairy alternatives are usually linked to an overall creamy and milky texture and taste profile. Depending on the protein source and formulation, masking properties and effective flavour profiles are therefore essential for providing sensorial attractive and enjoyable taste attributes.
Understanding product needs and plant protein sources Developing a profound understanding of plant-based categories, such as dairy, meat and fish alternatives and the key protein sources used is mandatory for creating successful product formulations. Bell therefore combines its expertise in flavour creation with a comprehensive understanding of the sensory effects of plant proteins, helping manufacturers to overcome challenges in product development. Within the new PLANT FUTURE platform, Bell adopts a holistic approach for plant-based alternatives, providing a toolbox of natural flavour solutions for various formulations and product segments.
Bell’s team of flavourists and sensory experts identified the potential off-tastes of various protein sources, including soy, wheat, pea, rice, oat, almond and coconut and its organoleptic effects on taste and other characteristics, including texture and mouthfeel. Based on the application needs, the team developed a range of functional masking solutions that help to mitigate specific off-notes and create a more neutral and appealing sensory profile. Bell further investigated in specific flavours helping to achieve a more rounded taste characteristic, such as full-bodied umami or meaty notes next to enriching creamy profiles creating a characteristic and dairy-like taste and mouthfeel. Additionally, the platform offers a broad range of natural flavours and characteristic top notes for differentiating taste profiles within the specific end-uses.
The flavours are meant to enable manufacturers to develop a clean label plant-based product portfolio for dairy alternatives, such as drinks, yoghurt-alternatives and ice cream, next to meat substitutes such as burger patties or nuggets, and fish substitutes. Targeting the growing market for plant-based high protein and sports nutrition products, Bell further focused on masking profiles and authentic natural flavour profiles for high protein powder shakes and high protein bars.
Plant-based revolution is driving market innovation With consumers increasingly avoiding animal protein on a daily basis, plant-based diets have evolved beyond
traditional vegetarian and vegan consumers and are moving into mainstream – substantially driven by flexitarian and younger consumer groups. Next to an increasing health awareness, motivations for plant-based diets also include environmental concerns and a focus on sustainability as well as food safety and animal welfare. At the same time, novelty factors and a growing, multi-facetted choice is driving consumer interest.
Agneta Hoffmann, Manager Marketing Flavours explains: “Although the plant-based industry is still at an early stage in many categories, it is recording a rapid growth. Product launches have accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic and evolve fast beyond the classic niche categories. Hence, plant-based innovation is representing a huge opportunity for brands and own labels alike to tap into new segments. Providing a variety of plant-based choices to consumers that target different eating occasions and can be easily integrated into their everyday food choices is a solid approach to help consumers do good for both, their health and the planet”.
According to market data from Market Research Future, the global plant-based food market is expected to acquire a market value of USD 37,982 million while recording a CAGR of 10 percent by 2027. Europe thereby accounted for the largest market share of 34 percent of the plant-based food market in 2019.
Targeting consumer needs for plant-based alternatives on a global scale, Bell’s regional organisations further comprise a range of vegan flavour varieties for the US market, as well as Canada and Latin America, being compliant to regulatory restrictions and consumer taste expectations within the respective markets.
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