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Introduction to Flavours

Introduction to Flavours

What Are Food Flavours?

Flavourings are widely used in food and beverage to deliver flavour direction, aroma and intensity. A flavourist is a specially trained scientist (part chemist, part artist) who skilfully designs the wonderful flavour combinations of our favourite foods and beverages.

''We use essential oils, flavour molecules, botanical extracts and essences to recreate nature or dream up something new'' - Philip Ashman, Synergy Flavourist.

Did you know?

76% of biscuit consumers rank taste as the most important factor when buying biscuits.

What is a flavour and how can we use them?

A flavouring is a food ingredient that brings taste and variety to food. Flavourings have been added to food since ancient times: the Egyptians were the first to add aromatics to their food, like herbs, spices, plant extracts and infusions.

Flavours are utilized in 3 main ways:

  1. To stimulate a characteristic taste of choice to maintain the flavour after processing;
  2. To modify an already existing flavour;
  3. To mask some undesirable flavour notes to increase consumer acceptance.

What makes up a flavour?

A flavouring is a mix of materials that contains varying numbers of chemical groups such as esters, lactones and alcohols. There is a high probability that we encounter various flavourings every time we eat.  

  • ±10,000 flavouring constituents have been identified in food.
  • Only 0.1-3% of final food is flavouring – a small part of the overall product.
  • There is a wide variety of flavour categories to choose from e.g., fruit flavours, sweet brown flavours, dairy flavours, extracts/spices etc
  • Global regulations vary when developing flavours for different regions and countries, for example, natural, organic, non-GMO, kosher, halal, etc.
  • The Europe Commission established the union list of flavourings (Annex I of Regulation 1334/2008) in 2012 with Regulation EU 872/2012. It contains the EU list of flavouring substances which can be used in food.

What is natural flavour ingredient?

Natural flavours are raw material which are derived from either animals or plants and are either used in their natural form or processed through physical, microbiological, or enzymatic processes. Distillation, extraction, and fermentation are the most commonly used methods for natural flavour production. Roasting, hydrolysis, heating and enzymolysis are other methods that can be employed to derive natural flavours.

A flavouring substance is considered ‘Natural’ if:

  1. Identified in nature
  2. Extracted from nature
  3. Using natural processes

What is in non-natural flavours?

Non-natural flavouring substances are created in a laboratory but their chemical structures can be identical to the substances present in natural products. They are made to add taste to a food or beverage and enhance the flavour characteristics of food and drinks. Non-natural flavours undergo stricter regulatory evaluation by the authorities compared to natural flavours. Non-natural flavours are widely used across multiple applications, especially in the beverages and processed food categories.

Global Flavours Market Size

Flavour formats

Here are different types of flavour formats well-known in the production process and some of them are used in the biscuit baking process

Flavours come in different formats and product types:

Liquid flavours use liquid or solid flavour molecules, essential oils, extracts or juices on a liquid carrier.

The most common types of Powder flavours produced are powder blends and spray dry flavours. Powder blends are blends of yeast extracts, acids, dairy powders, flavour, herbs and spices onto a powder carrier (e.g. salt or maltodextrin). These are mostly Savoury (Bouillons & Seasonings) powder blends. Spray dry flavours are produced when liquids are converted into a fine powder. The flavour is encapsulated into the powder matrix, allowing for good protection of the flavour, its stability whilst slowing down oxidation. This process can be broken down into 4 different stages:

  • Emulsification
  • Atomisation
  • Drying
  • Separation

    Spray dry flavours

How do we perceive flavours

Taste and smell receptors are directly connected with the brain, triggering memories and emotions and these are thoroughly put to use when perceiving flavours. In addition to visual perception of flavours, they can be perceived in the following ways:

  • Ortho-nasal aroma
  • Taste (Mouthfeel; Sensations – e.g. heat)
  • Retro-nasal aroma

Many flavourists evaluate flavours using sensory tools to help determine the impact of ingredients, process changes and to identify key components of each flavour molecule. Sensory evaluation can be defined as “a scientific discipline used to evoke, measure, analyse, and interpret reactions to those characteristics of foods and materials as they are perceived by the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing”2.

How can social media help with promotion of flavours?

The food & beverage industry requires flavours for multiple purposes such as altering the taste of an existing product, NPD (New Product Development) and to add a new product to the existing range. Innovation and evolution are continuously on a rise in the global beverage flavours market as consumers are open to try new taste sensations.

Staying ahead of the curve has always been the difference between success and failure within the food industry, but in today’s world of social media, this is even more acute.

The impact of social media and blogs on the food industry is producing a wealth of data for researchers to analyse and pull trends from. There are 377 million Instagram posts using #food and 39.5 million for #foodblogger, illustrating just how much engagement there is around food on these platforms. Data suggests that Millennials spend 5 days per year looking at photos of food on Instagram, whilst 33% of UK 18-24-year olds use their social media to take pictures of food1.

Flavours in biscuits

Flavours are used throughout food & drink applications and biscuits are no different. Mintel GNPD4 captured over 30,000 product launches globally classified as biscuits in the past 5 years, 85% of these contained a flavour. Chocolate is by all means the preferred flavour choice globally within the biscuit application.



A snapshot of flavours to explore in biscuits

With the rise of social media, visual appeal has began to rival taste as a key attribute when purchasing food & drink products. The rise in sharing digitally has also brought on a demand for food experiences and those experiences have to be Instagramable to be a success!

• 50% of consumers across Europe would like to see new cookies with indulgent ‘dessert flavours’

• Dessert-inspired cookies offer a permissibly indulgent alternative to a full-blown dessert!

Worth the calories

With consumers increasingly trying to perfect the balance between health eating and indulgent treats, permissibly indulgent treats have never been more relevant for biscuit consumers.

Multi-sensory on trend

Consumers are craving memorable experiences by exploring new textures, flavours, colours and smells. Experimentation which blends crunchy, creamy and chewy all in one bite in an emerging trend for biscuit brands and cookie market.

  • 35% of biscuit eaters would like to see more sweet biscuits with a thick covering of chocolate and 31% would like to see more creamy fillings, Mintel.

    Biscuit flavours tren
  • 43%​ of snackers prefer eating a small amount of a luxury snack (e.g., luxury chocolate) rather than a larger amount of a regular snack. ​

Bit size of indulgence

Flavour up your products and become ‘’Instagrammable’’

Keeping in mind how to make a good flavour is a necessity if you want to make a good biscuit or any kind of food. As we have mentioned, taste and smell receptors are directly connected with the brain, triggering memories and emotions and these are thoroughly put to use when perceiving flavours – so, make a good one and bring up good memories. Every taste and smell can make you think of a memory, for example, Pettit Beurre biscuits – they bring up your childhood memories, right?

Also, since the market is changing day by day, it is sometimes hard to stay in touch with all of the innovations but since we live in a world where social media plays an important role in marketing, if you are a manufacturer, keep in mind the visual identity of your product. Which one flavour is your favourite? Is it hard to produce a good one? If you are looking for amazing biscuit flavours you can contact Synergy Flavours.


  1. Mintel 2019
  2. Sensory Evaluation Division, IFT, 1975
  3. Allied Market Research, Global Flavours (Food and Beverages) Market 2017-2023
  4. Mintel 2021 GNPD Product launches: Global biscuits with flavours
  5. Sugar reduction: balancing health, naturalness & taste – Mintel 2019
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