A few years ago we embarked on a project to rediscover forgotten flavours and we started with one of the big ones, strawberry. Back in the early 70’s one of the world’s largest flavour houses had developed a strawberry flavour that over time became the benchmark in the industry and when we interrogated the marketplace in 2006, tasting and evaluating a host of strawberry flavoured products we found that there was a generic flavour characteristic in strawberry running through most food and beverage products. And this got us thinking. Surely there’s scope to improve things here, to move both our understanding and the technology forward?
The first step in the project was to look at the fruit itself, and this is where we found our first surprise. We trawled the supermarkets, greengrocers, farm shops and growers and could only find a small handful of varieties to evaluate. So we decided to start from scratch, we read about some of the old varieties that weren’t commercially available and from this initial research we selected a specific variety “Royal Sovereign”. All the literature pointed to this as the best candidate for study, it was reported as being the best tasting but the reason it wasn’t widely cultivated was because of its low yield and susceptibility to pest damage. We grew the fruit and there was no doubt, this was a winning flavour, bursting with fruity flavours and something very different to the more common varieties out there.
The next step was to find a party to carry out the analysis and for this we chose the Flavometrix team with their state of the art analytical equipment at Nottingham University. They analysed the fruit using headspace analysis and CG/MS and from this data we were able to develop a completely new range of great tasting and differentiated strawberry flavourings. To date all the hard work has paid off and we’re selling these flavours in products as diverse as dairy to snack foods.