Creating the right flavoring combination for a food, beverage or packaged product can require multiple attempts on the bench and in the pilot plant. The speed with which the product passes through the lab will depend largely on the skills of the product developer. Even with in-depth knowledge of ingredient interactions and processes, the product may hit a snag in manufacturing. Working with small levels of ingredients, such as spices, flavorings or high potency compounds requires exact measurements, plating, and pre-blending. The slightest misstep can summon QC to call for rework.
That’s why savvy companies seek the expertise of the supplier’s specialists like Icon Foods. Not only do they save the cost of research and development by relying on our R&D team. You will likely save manufacturing expenses by using a pre-blend. Adding one ingredient to the mix, rather than five or a dozen means there’s less room for error. Assurance of purchasing a consistent product is a strong advantage.
Like spices or flavors, each sweetener imparts its own taste and functional properties. While sugar’s sweetness builds, rounds and drops off slowly, high- intensity sweeteners tend to hit sharply and then linger. The presence or absence of other ingredients can magnify or mute sweetener tendencies. When certain sweeteners are used in tandem, their value exceeds their solo contribution. Making the most use of synergies optimizes flavor while lowering the levels of each must be used, ultimately reducing cost.
Understanding the nuances of each sweetener, the ways that it functions and the ways that it interacts with other ingredients will shorten time to delivery of the idealized sweetening system for a beverage, confectionery, baked good or other product. Custom sweetening solutions deliver exactly the right sweetness for the product they are designed for.
Taste is more than the interaction of flavor molecules upon the tongue. The way a product is perceived is the sum of multiple experiences, many of which are subliminal. How quickly sweetness is noted, how long it lasts, if it ends cleanly or lingers, if it imparts fullness or if it is described as thin are qualities that come into play.
Having a library of sweeteners to pull from and an intricate knowledge of their idiosyncrasies is important to developing the sweetening target. Sometimes additional ingredients are required to create the perception of fullness. The human tongue is sensitive to viscosity.
Besides adding mouthfeel, bulk is necessary to round out formulas. If sugar is removed from a product, solids are lost. Low- level usage of a high- intensity sweetener will automatically raise the percentages of all of the other ingredients. The difference must be accounted for or the finished product will not likely resemble the intended target.
Ideally, sweetening solutions should be customized to enhance the flavor of whatever product they are incorporated into. At the very least, they should never detract from the flavor.
Stevia’s tendency toward bitterness makes it incompatible with foods that have a bitter nature. That is if used alone. The incorporation of an effective masking agent can alleviate the tendency toward magnification. To a lesser effect, bulking agents such as gums, FOS, fructose, and erythritol will also contribute toward masking. Vanilla and tea flavors pair especially well with stevia.
Sweeteners can also mask acids. The levels of the acid in the formula may need to be increased to get the desired effect. Acidic foods and beverages, as well as carbonation, diminish sweetness perception. In these cases, more sweetener may be required.
Understanding the potential interactions and perceptions of all of the ingredients combined in the formula is key to developing the optimal sweetening system.
If replacing sweetness were the only criteria, developers would be sufficiently challenged. But the taste is just one of the roles sugar plays in foods.
In baked goods, sugar provides humectancy. Cakes, muffins, and breads stay softer. The moisture level of the product remains consistent. Water activity is controlled. Shelf life is improved.
Granulation also comes into play. Dry sweeteners may be granular or powdered. A 100 mesh sweetener will have a density comparable to 10X sugar.
Some formulas come together easily. A trek to the R&D pantry and a few tweaks to percentages may be all that’s necessary to hit the sweetness target. It’s rarely that simple.
Product development is more often an exercise of repetition. It’s trial and error with multiple formulation attempts.
Relying on a partner, like Icon Foods who has deep sweetening experience can simplify the process. Beginning with an understanding of the confidential ingredients in a formula, a seasoned applications team can customize a sweetening system to hit all the targets from sensory to functional attributes.
Just like a seasoning house combines blends of spices, colors, and flavorings, a sweetener company can create blends of sweetening compounds to deliver the optimum sweetness profile for a specific product. Maximizing synergies among sweeteners and other ingredients in the formula can reduce the cost of the formula. Sweetening premixes offer additional cost-saving benefits. Adding one ingredient instead of many reduces manufacturing steps as well as inventory, a benefit to both R&D and QC.
Partnering with the sweetener experts at Icon Foods will bring our intuitive knowledge to your development efforts and will help take the mystery out of reduced calorie formulations.
Icon Foods works with manufacturers to create custom sweetening solutions of all particle sizes that function as a plugin to replace sucrose, 10x sugar, invert sugar and high fructose corn syrup. When you collaborate with Icon Foods you can be assured of chemical-free processing, 100% natural products, clean label ingredients, GMO-free, gluten-free diabetic safe and kosher.
Since 1999, Icon Foods has been a leading global ingredient supplier of SteviaSweet RA98 – highly purified 98% minimum Rebaudioside A, available in both conventional and organic, SteviaSweet 95-60 – Optimized ratio of steviol glycosides available in both conventional and organic, Steviva Blend – 2x drop-in replacement for sucrose, Steviva Blend 100 mesh – replaces 10X powdered sugar, Fructevia – stevia fortified crystalline fructose with fiber, Erysweet Non-GMO erythritol, Erysweet100 Non-GMO erythritol 100 mesh, Nectevia stevia fortified agave nectar with Stevia – replaces DE42 high fructose corn syrup naturally, Fructose – Non-GMO crystalline fructose, Oliggo-Fiber-Fructooligosaccharides FOS, XeroSweet xylitol, XeroSweet+ stevia fortified xylitol both 100 mesh and standard particle size.