Synergy unveils flavor solution for whey protein beverages and “out-of-the-box” formulations
05 Oct 2021 --- Synergy Flavours has launched 4PROTEIN, a flavor solution designed to optimize the taste performance of whey protein products. Developed to make product formulation easier, it is declarable on-pack as a natural flavor and offers a range of texture and flavor benefits, the company says.
Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Chris Whiting, category manager for Synergy, explains how the launch attempts to go beyond typical flavors that boast functionality and more out-of-the-box tastes.
“There is a way of adding a bit of functionality through these flavors that can be quite useful for certain scenarios, such as if you wanted to avoid certain things on the packaging.”
Overcoming flavor hurdles
Flavoring dairy proteins can be a challenge. While the quality and taste profile has improved in recent years, many variables such as protein type, processing and batch to batch variance may still impact the taste.
According to data from Innova Market Insights, 41% of sports nutrition shoppers still consider flavor to be an essential factor when choosing food and drink, although it falls into third place behind health aspects and cost.
Synergy has “been very much focused on the dairy protein side of things,” notes Whiting, adding how demand for whey protein is still growing even amid the trend for plant-based and vegan proteins.
“Sports nutrition is one area which the plant-based demand hasn’t significantly impacted,” Whiting notes. “Dairy is still a key part of lots of people’s diets.”
Delivering full-bodied taste and texture
Manufacturers can create a natural, creamy taste and sweetness in their products, mask off-notes and improve mouthfeel in whey protein isolate (WPI) and whey protein concentrate (WPC), as well as delivering a richer, creamier taste and texture across different whey protein sources.
“Synergy’s 4PROTEIN range lifts the overall taste experience of whey protein products, making them more indulgent and premium,” notes Whiting.
“While flavor profiles and variants have improved significantly in recent years, the mainstream adoption of protein has created more discerning consumers and we’re all too aware of the main complaints of core users of sports nutrition products.”
“Whether you’re looking to build back creaminess to protein with lower fat levels, or create brand new, indulgent flavors, Synergy’s versatile 4PROTEIN flavor solutions will help elevate taste experience for sports nutrition lovers.”
Consumers across the pond
Whiting notes how consumers in both the UK and the US prefer a medium sweet taste or more of a subtly sweet flavor.
“From an ingredients point of view, the takeaway for us is that people want something that’s going to make their products taste better; they don’t necessarily want that to just be high levels of sweetness, which I think in the past, has been an approach that has been used.”
The positioning of Synergy’s products is that we can improve the base taste of these products without relying on some of the other aspects.
“Obviously, you’re still going to use sweeteners, but maybe you don’t have to go as high, and you can keep it as a bit more of a medium or a mild, sweet taste,” he maintains.
Taste is crucial
There is an almost universal agreement among protein powder consumers that great taste is vital, according to Synergy.
Creamy taste and consistency were discovered to be the most appealing taste characteristics. At the same time, problem off-notes like mouth-drying, cardboard, bitterness and astringency continue to impact product appeal and remain a barrier to the nutrition category.
Capturing these insights, Synergy’s product development process focused on achieving optimal taste performance for consumers and a versatile, convenient and cost-effective solution for manufacturers.
Product performance was validated by an in-house, expert sensory panel.
Indulgent flavors repositioned
According to Innova Market Insights, flavors from sweet treats categories into the sports nutrition area have already been seen in North America with candy, cake and dessert variants.
If consumers are very serious about their performance and gains, often a whey protein shake might be the closest thing to an indulgent treat, Whiting explains.
“There are a lot of people who want these products to deliver on flavor, so that is a big part of what we’re trying to support our customers with,” he comments. In light of this, Synergy is “positioning flavors that go beyond the core, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla flavors.”
“When working with a natural dairy base, an indulgent dairy profile such as a twist on berry or a masala chai latte, works very well,” adds Whiting.
Notably, dessert-inspired flavors are also popular with consumers.
“We see a lot of flavor innovation coming from the dessert space. For example, cookies and cream is pretty much a staple and also fudge brownie flavor. Those types of profiles go down very well with consumers, it seems.”
“We’re working with the concepts that consumers want to be healthy but still have a treat now and then. Sometimes that is in the format of a protein shake, but there’s no denying that permissible indulgence is a key area for innovation,” Whiting concludes.
Innovation for healthier products
Meanwhile, in March, Synergy Flavours released an ingredient tipped as making significant fat and calorie reductions in baked goods, such as muffins, cookies and biscuits.
With more choice in the bakery sector than ever before and a spotlight on health and well-being, pressure is building to reduce the calorie content of baked goods.
Healthier indulgence continues to trend in the nutrition sphere.
Arla Foods Ingredients recently launched Lacprodan SoftBar, a new concept to help manufacturers create protein bars that offer healthier indulgence without compromising functionality.
In a similar move, the company unveiled a whey protein ingredient to help meet the growing demand for premium, high-protein yogurts in the South American market and beyond.
By Elizabeth Green
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