When creating a new flavour, flavourists use their own olfactory experience to imagine the final fragrance resulting from the combination and interaction of selected aromatic raw materials. Flavours are used for multiple purposes.
By Clément Soulet, Pancosma, Switzerland
Flavours are created by a team of flavour specialists. Their work is similar to that of perfumers, with one extra parameter: Flavours are also intended to be consumed. The creation of a flavour is motivated by the search for a specific application or fragrance.
Primary formulation is restricted by the availability of raw materials, surprisingly less than for human consumption due to regulations. Furthermore, the choice of expensive raw materials is a challenge seeing the economic attractiveness.
Flavours must have a perfect balance in its olfactory pyramid, see Figure 1 (see attached pdf). This means that the top note, which is smelled first as it is extremely intense and volatile, followed by the middle note, detected behind the top note and the base note which lingers longer and stabilises the flavour. This categorisation corresponds with the physical-chemical characteristics of raw materials, in particular with the vapour pressure, i.e time it takes until evaporation.
The flavour formulation can be achieved via a direct approach to obtain the final olfactory image, or via the combination of several bouquets. An example is cherry fragrance, broken down into three bouquets: The stone, the fruity note and the fresh note.
A flavour typically contains 30 to 50 raw materials, divided into two categories:
* Synthetics family (reproductions of molecules which exist in nature)
* Essential oils (derived from plants).
As instrument measurements are not enough to account for the impression of a flavour, the evaluation of aroma essentially relies on sensory analysis by humans. Swiss animal nutrition company Pancosma has trained employees in olfactory analysis for years, in the form of a panel where everyone can describe complete fragrances or flavours.
Flavours are systematically evaluated in an olfactory (blind tests), gustatory manner, either pure or as final feed e.g. concentrates, milk replacers, mineral premix. The laboratory tests stability and resistance to heat, humidity and pressure, thereby mimicking the technological and preservation constraints of feed manufacturers.
About 15 flavours created every year are used for different purposes: To stimulate feed consumption, particularly in young animals, to mask unpleasant smells or unpalatable ingredients and to regulate the variations in taste and smell due to a change in formulation or variable feed ingredients. At the same time, they give feed an attractive aromatic profile, unique characteristics to identify as a product brand.
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