Swedish sugar-reduction specialist Bayn has developed a way to analyze the aromas of sugary foods that could help improve the taste of items with less sugar, BakeryandSnacks reports.
The electronic sensory (e-sensory) technology uses gas chromatography to build a database of different aroma molecules, allowing companies to more accurately mimic the flavor of full-sugar products. In gingerbread, for example, the technique identified the need for more cinnamon, cloves or orange peel in reduced-sugar recipes.
Using the database approach allows companies to mitigate the sugar-reduction effects on texture and sweetness, as well as taste. The company said it could also shorten development time for new products, as it allows manufacturers to identify exactly how food aromas changes when sugar is reduced.
Although the sweetness provided by sugar is one of the five basic tastes, much of what we think of as flavor is actually aroma. Taste is perceived in the mouth, but when food is chewed, aroma volatiles are released and are perceived through retronasal smell. Sugar also contributes to a food’s texture and mouthfeel, which also influence flavor.
Sugar reduction has become a major focus for food manufacturers, as 84% of Americans say they are limiting the amount of sugar in their diet, according to Mintel. The revamped Nutrition Facts panel, which will be required on most packages by 2020, breaks out the amount of sugar added to products — and has manufacturers scrambling to reformulate their products.
However, although there is a wide range of sweeteners and other ingredients available, there is no one ingredient that acts as perfect sugar replacement. Increasingly, manufacturers are turning to multifaceted approaches, including adding fibers and hydrocolloids to add bulk back into reduced sugar products. But this also has an effect on flavor, meaning that recipes need tweaking to better replicate full-sugar products.
Confectioners and bakers find sugar reduction particularly challenging as texture, crumb, mouthfeel, volume and weight all need to be taken into consideration. The e-sensory technique could help mitigate these factors by analyzing their specific effect on how the release of aroma molecules changes when sugar is removed — thereby telling product developers exactly how they should change their recipes to mimic full-sugar foods.