Food and beverage manufacturers continue to substitute synthetic and nature-identical flavours with natural flavours, despite high reformulation costs. The consumer demand for simpler ingredients list on product labels, which are easier to understand and contain fewer synthetic ingredients.
European flavouring manufacturers are increasingly looking for ways to produce flavourings from natural ingredients instead of synthetic ingredients in order to address consumer concerns about product labels. Essential oils are some of the most important natural ingredients for manufacturers. The wide variety of essential oils gives them numerous possibilities to formulate new or improved natural flavourings.
The clean labelling trend is another major driver of the demand for natural flavourings. Clean labels do not contain the names of ingredients which sound unhealthy to the majority of consumers, such as chemical formulas of synthetic ingredients. This trend is consumer driven and stimulates manufacturers to use essential oils instead of synthetic ingredients.
There is a large variety in the types of essential oils that are used in food. In total, over 100 essential oils are being offered on the European market; for example:
• geranium oil (flowers)
• cumin oil (seeds)
• angelica oil (roots)
• cardamom oil (seeds)
• parsley oil (seeds or herbs)
• peppermint oil (leaves)
• orange oil (peels)
• cinnamon oil (bark and leaves)
• nutmeg oil (nuts)
• sandalwood oil (woods)
• Salt reduction proves to be a challenge
Many Europeans consume more salt than is healthy for them. Media attention to this health concern is raising consumer awareness of their own salt consumption. Consequently, the demand for products containing less salt is strong.
In response, many food manufacturers aim to reduce salt in their products. As they do not want to compromise on taste, they use other ingredients to mask the salt reduction. Several essential oils, such as cardamom oil, can offer this function.
• Ethnic foods are gaining popularity
Ethnic foods are gaining popularity worldwide, including in Europe. Indian, Thai and Mexican food are some of the most popular international flavours.
Spice and herb essential oils are interesting ingredients for food manufacturers to create such ethnic foods. For example, food manufacturers can use coriander leaf oil to mimic the use of fresh coriander leaves.
• Ginger oil
Since ginger has become a particularly popular taste among consumers, manufacturers are developing many new products with ginger and ginger oil.