Key Interview: Kalsec Addresses the Evolution of Clean Label and Hot and Spicy Flavor Profiles

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06 Feb 2017 --- Kalsec supplies products to the food industry derived from natural herbs, spices, vegetables and hops, which are translated into applications ideal for most food and drink formulations. Kalsec’s expertise and resources encompass a full line of natural, innovative products and solutions to meet the challenges faced by food and beverage manufacturers throughout the industry and around the world to make products look better, taste better and last longer.

FoodIngredientsFirst caught up with Executive Director Gary Augustine to discuss some of the requirements from the food industry and trends in spices. One of Kalsec’s strongest categories in which they have a leadership position is in the spices and herbs categories. “Our ingredients are naturally sourced from spices, herbs and vegetables,” notes Augustine. 

“One market opportunity that is a major trend and even an established norm is the move towards clean label ingredients,” claims Augustine. “Consumers are looking for more transparency in terms of the ingredients that are on a label and what they are consuming. Clean and clear label continues globally, it’s taken hold in EU and certainly gaining momentum in the US, we are also seeing it increase in Asia as well.”

“‘Free-from’ is definitely a growing and viable part of the clean label category,” he adds. “At Kalsec we are looking at the opportunity of continuing to collaborate with customers to replace synthetic ingredients with naturally based plant extracts,” Augustine explains. “Of course the challenge with that is using natural materials to replace synthetics and trying to consider how to provide a similar color, or flavor or shelf life characteristic that consumers want with these clean label alternatives. That means considering what form it needs to be in, the stability, the consistency, the conditions of which the products are manufactured, all these variables are things that have to be considered when replacing synthetic ingredients with a natural ingredient. We work with our customers to help replace artificial ingredients and synthetic preservatives by providing them with solutions that are stable and standardized in way that allows consistent color and flavor characteristics,” he says.

What are the key areas of focus in terms of product development for Kalsec? “Right now we continue to develop naturally sourced solutions in meat and poultry, snacks, and sauce and dressing applications,” explains Augustine. 

“Consumers are more willing to explore and experiment with new flavors in applications such as sauces, dressings and snacks. It’s a low risk purchase, but it allows consumers to try new flavors at home,” he says. 

According to Augustine, Mexican flavors are starting to emerge again as a popular choice for consumers, as is Middle Eastern spices and even North African tastes are gaining traction in the flavor category. He adds: “Nowadays, consumers are looking for more than just a flavor or heat; they are looking for flavor systems that have more dimension or complexity. An example is harissa which combine chilies, garlic and spices to provide a well-rounded ethnic flavor profile. We are also seeing a rise in flavor combinations with citrus.”

“A trend toward the globalization of flavors as the world becomes a closer place through technology and experiences such as travel and the internet. These flavor trends show the evolution of consumers looking for more dimensions to flavors, such as ethnic combinations of spice and, particularly millennials who are more receptive to trying new flavor experiences. There are a lot of influences from African and Middle Eastern countries, and certainly areas of South East Asia where we see popular flavor profiles such as fermented heat,” he explains. 

What are the challenges for Kalsec? “We are continually challenged to meet the speed and ever-changing consumer palate,” confirms Augustine. “People are being much more experimental with flavors from all over the globe and that is why cooking sauces and table sauces are so popular because people can take them home and experiment with them in a prepared meal. It can add another dimension to a rather ordinary protein source, and that creates an interesting meal experience for consumers,” he states, “People are wanting to experiment together at home under celebratory circumstances, for example, with family or friends and try new flavors.” Augustine believes the sauces, dressings and snacks category are in for continued strong growth for new flavor experiences in 2017. 

What other flavor trends are gaining popularity? “There has been a continued strong trend that includes garlic and chili (Sriracha) and an increasing interest in sweet heat flavor combinations such as  chipotle and honey,” Augustine claims. “Our recent consumer research on hot and spicy trends supports that hot and sweet combinations are a favorite among consumers. 

“We partnered with Innova Market Insights to identify general consumption trends of hot and spicy foods. We continue to see, over the last ten years, a strong 20% compound annual growth rate of products introduced having some type of a hot and spicy ingredient. This includes either a condiment or spice itself or a chili pepper variety. We see the trend towards hot and spicy food increasing globally and I think it goes back to consumers enjoying new flavor experiences and authentic ethnic flavor systems.”

“We believe that fermented flavor profiles are something to watch for 2017. We also believe the trend toward more ingredients with a cooked flavor profile such as roasted, toasted, charred and caramelized will continue to expand in such ingredients as garlic, onion and other herbs and spices.”

“There are many examples of market opportunities going on in the world. In some parts of the world such as Asia, as their middle class grows, convenience foods such as snacks and prepared meals are becoming more popular. This creates opportunities to provide new flavor profiles as well as meeting the challenges of shelf life and product stability,” he concludes. 

by Elizabeth Kenward 

Kalsec

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Our products, derived from natural herbs, spices, vegetables and hops, are translated into easy-to-use liquids ideal for most formulations. These are of the highest quality and consistency available. Kalsec® is the only company whose expertise and resources encompass a full line of natural, innovative products and solutions to meet the challenges faced by food and beverage manufacturers throughout the industry and around the world.

Kalsec® Southwest, located near Denver City, Texas, specializes in the cultivation, harvest, dehydration and extraction of paprika, rosemary and carrot, as well as specialty herbs and spices. At this location we also process a line of solvent-free expeller pressed extracts that are ideal for supporting your green and sustainability platform.

In 1995, we opened an office in the United Kingdom, now known as Kalsec® Europe (KEU). Kalsec® Europe has been providing local support to the European market, with sales, sampling, applications and warehousing capabilities. Located in Mildenhall, United Kingdom, KEU continues to grow to meet the needs of the European market.

In February 2010, we opened an office in Shanghai, China to serve our customers in the Asian market. Additionally, we have a network of agents as well as an applications laboratory in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to meet the growing demands of this emerging market.

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