Synergy Flavours is tapping into the European dairy alternatives market by launching two flavours that closely resemble the taste of conventional milk.
The flavouring specialist, which is owned by Irish dairy co-op Carbery Group, has formulated the new offerings with plant-based milks in mind. The company has seen a rise in the number of consumers who purchase both plant-based and dairy products, and said that ‘consumers are accustomed to the taste of dairy and therefore expect this to be mirrored in alternative products’.
The new flavours are fresh milk and UHT milk, both of which are expected to provide the 'dairy-type profile that consumers increasingly expect in plant-based milks, adding creaminess, indulgence and sweetness across a range of bases, including soy, oat and pea', said the company. On pack, the new flavours will be declared as natural flavouring.
To inform its manufacturing focus, Synergy Flavours conducted research among 600 consumers of non-dairy alternatives in the UK, Germany and France to gauge preferences across different geographies. When asked what they wish for from non-dairy milks, 32% of UK respondents said a fresh dairy taste, 31% of respondents in Germany said a fresh milk taste, and 26% of the French consumers surveyed said a creamier taste.
“We find that whilst many consumers in the UK are accustomed to the taste of fresh milk, consumers in some other European nations will be more accustomed to the taste of UHT milk,” said Natalie Sheil, category manager at Synergy Flavours. "We have developed a flavour solution for both, so that manufacturers have the flexibility to choose the right profile based on their consumer preferences. This means that one of the flavours is based on the flavour profile of fresh milk, with fresh dairy notes, and the other flavour is based on the flavour of UHT milk with more caramelised and cooked/brown notes.”
Synergy Flavours has also compared some of the popular plant proteins to find out how their taste profile differs from that of milk, and how this could be improved.
Speaking of Synergy’s methodology in more detail, Sheil added: “We usually start by analysing the plant-based ingredients to understand the key aroma compounds present which in turn helps us to develop tailored solutions that work with the base to harmonise undesirable notes and deliver impactful flavours. This approach has proved effective in developing flavours optimised for challenging bases, and is currently being applied to other product categories within the alternative protein space.”
Reflecting on the market at large, Sheil concluded: "The plant-based market continues to grow at a rapid rate, and with more plant-based products hitting the shelves and more plant protein bases being used to create milk alternatives, there’s no shortage of innovation in this area… So, while the industry as a whole will be innovating in this area on an ongoing basis, our dairy expertise and heritage (…) gives us unique insight into the way dairy and dairy taste works. Combining this dairy heritage with broad flavour expertise across products and applications enables us to create the ultimate plant-based taste experience and consider every aspect of the flavour experience including mouthfeel, aroma, masking, depth, balance, and flavour.”