Milk and whey proteins are often used in protein bars and shakes, particularly in the sports nutrition market, but added protein can create sensory problems in finished products, including bitterness, chalkiness and hardening, that can reduce consumer appeal and shelf-life.
Synergy said that it hopes the research will pinpoint the specific taste profiles of these protein components in order to develop flavors that could mitigate unwanted tastes in added-protein products.
Professor Mary Anne Drake of the Food, Bioprocessing, and Nutrition Sciences faculty at NCSU said: “The addition of proteins can contribute to flavor challenges in finished product applications. By identifying the specific volatile components that contribute to these flavor challenges, our study will help complement Synergy’s analytical toolkit. Flavors can then be more specifically engineered to work with individual protein sources.”
Drake, who is director of the sensory analysis and flavor chemistry team at NCSU, said the research will focus primarily on dairy proteins and how their flavor varies with processing and storage. It will involve preference mapping, descriptive analysis and consumer testing, and compare the results of these perception studies with chemical flavor analysis of added-protein products.
Synergy’s parent company, the Carbery Group also intends to use the results of the study in order to review its processes with the aim of providing better tasting ingredients for nutritional and functional foods.
Synergy USA’s technical vice president Paulette Lanzoff said: “Working with my colleagues, both in Carbery’s protein research group as well as in NCSU’s analytical and sensory labs, we believe we will be able to further optimize the taste of best selling flavors like chocolate and vanilla in protein-based health and wellness products. What’s more, the detailed insight provided by connecting analytical and sensory approaches will allow us to develop a range of great tasting creative flavors for use across the whole nutrition product sector.”
According to Euromonitor, the global snack bar market was estimated to be worth US$8.53bn in 2008, with the energy bar sector making up $1.38bn of that.