November 1, 2017
By FEMA Staff
Determining taste is no miniscule chore. In fact, taste is one of the trickiest senses to define. Words like salty, sweet, sour, and bitter describe common flavor taste perceptions, but taste alone does not make up your entire flavor experience. Other aspects like appearance, aroma, sound, and texture also contribute to a flavor’s taste.
With all of these characteristics affecting flavor perceptions, where do scientists start in the flavor creation process? Well, in order to reach the desired tasting flavor, scientists are tackling texture at the beginning of the product development process using new texture tools.
What are texture tools?
A FoodNavigator article shares how companies such as Ingredion and TIC Gums have developed texture tools to help translate consumer insights and experiences into technical language for scientific understanding. The companies have created new and innovative texture tools called Texicon and Lexicon respectively. TIC Gums President, Greg Andon, tells FoodNavigator that objective communication between his company and their customers requires a really good communication tool, and for them, this tool is Lexicon.
Tools such as Lexicon provide detailed lists of texture attributes and definitions to assist in the articulation of texture tasting. Words like “mouthfeel” and “tooth coating” are a few of the characteristics used to decipher a food’s texture (we define “mouthfeel” as the sensation on our tongues after we eat a meal.)
Once sensations such as mouthfeel are defined, they are broken down into categories, and entered into food maps using precise scientific terminology. From the maps, scientists can create the perfect texture they are targeting. Tools like Lexicon maintain a list of more than 100 different product attributes, which should cover almost any new product that a company looks to develop.
Overall, this new communication instrument helps break the language barrier between the flavor creator and consumer, providing a better product and customer experience. TIC Gum’s Andon states, “If you know both your flavor and your texture goal up front, then we can work from the very beginning on designing a finished product that manages your expectations.” Now, many companies are setting texture goals at the start of new product development, and thus creating flavors in which they know customers already approve.
The Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States (FEMA) was founded in 1909 and is the national association of the U.S. flavor industry. FEMA’s membership is comprised of flavor manufacturers, flavor users, flavor ingredient suppliers, and others with an interest in the U.S. flavor industry. The association is committed to ensuring a safe supply of flavor ingredients used in foods and beverages enjoyed by billions of men, women, and children around the world.