KANSAS CITY – Product developers face a variety of challenges when formulating with functional ingredients. Some compounds, such as reishi mushrooms or caffeine, typically taste bitter or unpleasant, says Sam Kressler of Stir Innovation, a consumer packaged goods consulting firm.
“It doesn’t matter how good the product is for the consumer,” said Mr. Kressler once said Food entrepreneur An experience, an online event that presents food business news. “It doesn’t matter what your requirements are. If it tastes like garbage, no one is going to buy it twice.”
Consumers may forgive the unpleasant taste if the product promises benefits such as improved digestion, mood support or immune health, he added.
“There’s a little leeway with functional foods,” said Mr. Kressler said: “Sometimes consumers will think that if a product tastes too good, if it doesn’t taste medicinal enough, then it doesn’t work.”
It Food entrepreneur The April 19 event included wide-ranging conversations with industry experts and startup founders about the functional food movement.
Mighty Gum Founder and CEO Matthew Thalakotur discussed the challenges he faced as he collaborated with medical professionals, herbalists and formulators to develop a sugar-free gum packed with botanicals and vitamins. One of the ingredients is reishi mushroom, a popular mushroom used in Oriental medicine that has a “very strong flavor,” he noted.
“What I was able to do was find a supplier who only took the beta glucan out of the reishi mushroom and isolated it, which prevented the rest of the reishi mushroom flavor from coming out,” he said.
He described a process of “trying all of these ingredients, regardless of the rest of the product, before we put it in … and figure out what the right balance of this ingredient is, how this product is going to be consumed, so that they still achieve performance while providing good taste. “.
He added: “Some ingredients I just don’t use. I would have liked to have some of the ingredients that I originally had, like astragalus and so on, but I had to take them out of the gum because they had such a strong flavor profile.”
FORIJ founder Parker Olson shared his experience creating lion’s mane granola and soft baked bars, noting similar challenges in balancing functionality and flavor in the finished product.
“We spent about a year with a product developer and a food scientist looking at how we could incorporate these ingredients with several goals in mind. How do you make them taste good? How do you make sure that those healing or valuable compounds are still there at the end of the processing?” Mr. Olson said: “We definitely went through a lot of challenges early on trying to figure out some of these issues.
“We rely heavily on a mix of healthy fats and oils and powerful spices, and we’ve found that if you can create the right mix of rich fats with powerful spices, it can almost recreate the sweetness. Along with that, there is added sugar in our products…from maple syrup, agave and coconut sugar.”
Speakers revealed additional insights into functional food development and marketing Food entrepreneur experience.
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