Mastertaste, the flavour and flavour ingredients division of Kerry, is to offer more than 90 different botanical extracts as flavours and flavour ingredients under its Botanical Collection line, including aloes, orange blossom, saffron and complex blends. The primary uses are expected to be beverages - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic - and dairy products, especially those positioned on a health platform. Vittorio Pregno, chief flavourist at Mastertaste's unit in Turin, Italy, highlighted customisation as a key point of differentiation for the firm's new offerings. "Rather than blend dry herbs and spices prior to carrying out the extraction, our technology provides us with the ability to extract single botanicals and blend them together to create a complex, often tailor-made end profile." Ingredients firms are increasingly being called upon to do much of the R&D on use of their products, and Mastertaste appears to be rising to the challenge. Such a strategy gives it a layer of customer-contact beyond its sales force, and places it in a stronger position against competitors who offer one-size-fits-all solutions. One of the key areas of partnership is blending of the different extracts into specialty notes. This can enable the replication of characteristic tastes, such as limoncello, the Italian liqueur, or vermouth, for example. They can also be blended with other fruit or brown notes. Most of the extracts in the new range are available as coloured tinctures and colourless distillates. The company explained that the extraction process involves hydro-alcoholic infusion, and a final stage of distillation enables recovery of all the solvent residue, it claims. Next, the fractions are blended together to pack the greatest sensory punch. To boost stability and ensure longevity of aromatic properties, Mastertaste also uses an ultrafiltration technology that it says yields "highly purified extracts". In addition to common botanicals, Mastertaste claims to be leading the curve in developing extracts of lesser known plants, like honeybush, and specialty teas. Such innovations are important in the current climate of consumers seeking out exotic tastes, as well as the heightened interest in all things healthy. The announcement of the new botanical range follows not long after the company launched a new technology to help enable sweetener and salt reduction in food products without impacting taste. The company said it is the "combination of building blocks to achieve proper performance in specific applications", and the technology is said to work by enhancing taste perception. Markus Eckert, PhD, vice president of technical for flavors at Mastertaste told FoodNavigator.com that these building blocks are all GRAS-approved flavor ingredients drawn from the company's portfolio, which includes botanical extracts, food extracts and citrus-derived materials. Again, the tailor-made aspect is flagged as a key selling point: "When customers choose Mastertaste's Flavour Modulation Technology, they aren't just purchasing a product-they're enlisting the help of a partner," said Eckert.