Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery’s September Ingredient Technology article, “A Feast for the Senses,” looks at new flavors and colors being introduced by leading food ingredients manufacturers in response to customer requests and consumer trends. Classic, sweet-and-salty, exotic fruit, blue and green are just some of the flavors and colors being used to create tasty, visually appealing, new baked goods and snacks.

But with consumer demand for better-for-you foods made with natural ingredients on the rise, bakers and snack manufacturers must flex their creative muscles to seek out natural flavors and colors for their products. And with these requests for natural food ingredients climbing, will supply be able to meet demand and will the quality of these ingredients be impacted? According to ingredient manufacturers we talked with, that depends on a variety of factors:

Cinnamon rolls

“The main issues impacting the availability of natural flavors and colors are regulatory understanding, application technology to compete with synthetics and artificial flavoring, heat and light stability and shelf life. These [factors] combined with the shortage of land for cultivation of safe and clean crops are a challenge. Hence, development has to be in engineering the right product with the right technology, while also working with farmers in producing clean crops [and] supporting them with research for higher yielding, disease-resistant cultivars and more. Without these interventions, we cannot sustain our efforts to promote natural ingredients in our food. Among the various initiatives, we have formed a new company called Omnikan, which focuses on our need for crop sustainability and working closely with farmers.” – Sanjaya Mariwala, managing director, Kancor North America Inc., Morristown, N.J.

Colorful macaroons

“The key issue [is] the supply-and-demand dynamics of the marketplace responding to consumers increasingly requesting natural colors and flavors.” – Ron Heddleson, director of technical services, QualiTech Inc., Chaska, Minn.

“The largest issue impacting the availability of natural flavor is consistent sourcing and the increasing price of commodity ingredients. Being able to have a consistent source allows natural flavors to taste the same every time. Provenance declarations help suppliers build trust among consumers by sharing detailed information about the origin of ingredients. Consumers want to be told a story of how products are made, where the ingredients come from and even who made the product.” – Alan Owen, marketing, sweet flavors, Sensient, Hoffman Estates, Ill.

“Some ingredients have limited availability, so as demand grows for them, the demand sometimes outpaces the ability to increase the supply. We [also] need to understand where these ingredients are coming from and determine whether they meet our food safety and quality standards. Sometimes, they’re not coming from well-known, reputable suppliers.” – Jerome Lombardo, senior principal flavorist, Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings, Omaha, Neb.

Tortilla chips and salsa

“There are two primary issues facing natural color users: First, the varying stability of colors in extreme processing conditions like baking, frying, extruding [and so on] makes delivering a consistent product a challenge; second, the narrow range of hues offered by natural colors limits their application in the broader baking and snack categories. Together, these [factors] impact the availability (and cost) of suitable natural colors, especially year after year, as most of these colors are tied to plant production, harvest and yield. The natural flavors business has been growing to meet expected needs with adequate volumes, however, this is specific to flavor type. Not all [flavors] are as readily available in the quantities expected due to similar issues of source production, harvest, processing, yield, etc.”– Jeanne Meeder, industrial ingredients and consumer products director, and Mel Mann, director of flavor innovation, Wixon, St. Francis, Wis.

Cinnamon Rolls: Courtesy of QualiTech Inc.

Macaroons: Courtesy of Spicetec Flavors & Seasonings

Tortilla Chips: Courtesy of Wixon