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Postcards from the Bench

The Nuances of a Not-So-Simple Flavor

February 2019 | Gerardo, Senior Sensory Scientist

In the age of individualization, consumers have an increasing desire for specific flavors that fit their palate. These preferences can be impacted by age, ethnicity, eating experiences and more.

Take cinnamon – a highly popular and seemingly simple flavor.  A closer look through the lens of analytical, sensory and consumer science reveals just how complex this flavor can be when tailoring a taste experience to deliver on a target audience’s conscious & sub-conscious preferences.  In a review of cinnamon cereals, we found that different characteristics stood out for brands that target kids vs. adults vs. all-family.  Generally, most consumers like cinnamon’s characteristic woody, musty, and earthy flavor and aroma; however different groups did prefer experiences that highlighted certain characteristics over others. 

From an analytical science and descriptive panel standpoint, the flavor intensity of cinnamon is a function of the cinnamic aldehyde content of the volatile oil. In ‘kid’ cereals and ‘all-family’ our research shows a strong cinnamon aldehyde characteristic; however, the ‘kid’ cereal profile was sweeter while the ‘all-family’ cereal woodier.  The ‘adult’ focused cereal was woody, but in these cereals, a more pronounced astringency characteristic was present.  By conducting this research, we now have a guide for creating cinnamon flavored products for different audiences. The benefit of understanding the desired flavor nuances and intensity by consumer demographic is that you can apply profiles to your application that best match your brand.

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Looking to create a more nuanced taste experienced for your next project?  Reach out to your McCormick account manager or contact us today.