UK firm cracks natural authentic pomegranate flavour

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Flavor

A UK-based flavour manufacturer claims it has cracked the difficult
task of developing an authentic, all-natural pomegranate flavour.

Through the application of patience - and a good nose - Create Flavours believes it has developed a natural pomegranate flavour that could help food makers tap the huge potential of the fruit within the growing health food market.

Indeed, chief flavourist Jonathan Jones believes that the innovation represents a major departure from existing products.

He claims that lack of research and development on this subject has meant that the products available have tended to bear little resemblance to the real fruit.

"If you smell other fruits, you get an idea why an accurate pomegranate flavour has proved so difficult to achieve,"​ he told FoodNavigator.

"Compared to other fruits, the pomegranate has a low concentration of volatile compounds, and as a result, a lot of flavour companies have given up. The problem is that the aroma volatiles that give flavour to pomegranate occur in very minute concentrations so there's very little data available to the flavourist to get him started."

Create Flavours believed that an authentic flavour was nonetheless possible. The company tried to find the most flavoursome pomegranates available, and through the use of trained noses, attempted to identify the different complex characteristics of the pomegranate flavour through a detailed sensory analysis.

"Despite all the technology that is out there, the nose is still the most sensitive instrument we have,"​ said Jones. "In this way we dissected the flavour, identified the key compounds and tried to recombine them through the age-old process of trial and error."

The company says it has tailored the natural flavours to perform in a number of food and drink applications including soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, dairy and confectionery products.

"Drinks is the most natural market segment,"​ said Jones. "To get the full benefit of the pomegranate, you really need the juice."

Leatherhead Foods predicts that sales of heart health foods will rise nearly 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 period to reach nearly $5.7 billion by 2009. Although it said in its recent 'Heart Benefit Foods' report that, until now, juice drinks have tended to have a general health positioning due to their antioxidant content, there are signs that this may be about to change.

Indeed, Create Flavours believes that the market for pomegranate products is set to explode. Originally grown in the Middle East, it has, in the words of Jones, become recognised as a true superfood.

Recent studies have shown consumption of the fruit can reduce blood pressure, is high in polyphenols and vitamin C and low in calories. The fruit has commonly been linked to improved heart health, but other varied claims have been made including protecting against prostate cancer and slowing cartilage loss in arthritis.

Pomegranate juice is already approved by the charity Heart UK, and within Britain the fruit has seen sales increase ten-fold, to 500,000 litres a month, from mid-2004 to mid-2005.

"We saw the same thing with cranberries,"​ said Jones. "When the fruit was recognised as a good source of polyphenols, the market went mad. The same thing is happening with pomegranate, and I think that this is sustainable."

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