Edouard Janssen, senior vice president for North American and Latin America at Solvay, said that the company has been known for many years as a flavor and fragrance house. But the company is extending that message, seeking to become more of an integrated solutions provider.
“We have grown to be a world leader in vanillin,” Janssen told NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, NV. “We have been in the business more than 130 years, and we service all of the big food and beverage companies. But as we saw the growth of ‘natural’ in the marketplace, we started to produce a natural vanillin.”
Janssen said that the company is now capable of providing artificial or natural flavor and aroma solutions, depending on the product positioning and the customer’s need. Natural vanilla flavor arising from the vanilla bean itself is not something that is appropriate for every product depending on its price point, he said.
And, Solvay’s long experience with vanillin as a substance has enabled it to mine the ingredient for additional properties.
“Most people know vanillin as a flavoring. But it is a much more rich and complex molecule than that,” Janssen said.
New proteins need some help
Janssen said the need for flavor masking ingredients has become acute with the rapid differentiation of proteins in the marketplace. The trend toward plant based nutrition has made space for a wealth of new ingredients, from pea proteins, to rice, barley, canola proteins and so on. Some of these are still fairly early in their development time lines, meaning they are trading more on their sources in the plant world rather than on their taste as a standalone ingredient. Some of these proteins—the lower grade pea proteins in particular—have aggressive earthy and bitter notes that are concentrated when the protein is extracted. While developers work diligently to improve the base ingredients, there is a need to make what’s in the market now more palatable.
“What they did traditionally was to splash a lot of flavors on top,” Janssen said. “That doesn’t produce a very fine tuned solution. There is too much of it.”
Moving from industrial scale to individual solutions
Jean Pierre Cuif, flavor business manager for Solvay, said that the company works with formulators to use the company’s various varieties of vanillin as a masking agent, making the flavor of the protein as mild as possible before starting on the finished flavor formulation. Cuif said the new mode of operation mirrors the development of the business itself. The company is becoming more fine-tuned itself, and is moving away in its food ingredients business from being primarily a manufacturer of large lots of material produced to certain price points.
“New food ingredients naturally require some new functional solutions,” he said. “Based on our knowledge as a flavor house we can create new functional formulations. We are doing innovation on the core business and moving into new markets such as sports nutrition, weight management and healthy aging nutrition. We have extensive applications labs to create these formulations. We used to be more of an industrial company.”