Imbibe Expands Taste Modulation Team, Increases R&D Capabilities
The old sayings “let thy food be thy medicine” and “you are what you eat” ring truer than ever for consumers but formulating better-for-you beverages often comes with taste, texture and processing challenges. Imbibe’s Taste Modulation Team has played an integral role in the company’s ability to create great-tasting, healthy, natural and functional products by providing best-in-class solutions for overcoming taste and formulation obstacles.
In 2016, Imbibe responded to industry megatrends around clean label and sugar reduction by forming a team that has been solely focused on exploring new ingredient technologies from suppliers across the industry. The team found that masking off-notes or adding sweetness without sugar is rarely successful using a single ingredient. In order to provide the best taste solutions for customers, Imbibe’s ingredient technologists have dedicated the last three years to understanding the organoleptic effect of sweeteners and flavorings with modulating properties (FMPs) available on the market in order to develop and commercialize tools specific to a formula. More recently the team expanded, and the Taste Modulation Team was formed.
Imbibe’s Taste Modulation Team has the advantage of formulating concurrently with the company’s product developers and flavorists on projects. Collaborating with other R&D staff on a project allows the team to make corresponding changes to flavor composition and levels along with adjusting other beverage formula components like acids, stabilizers and functional ingredients until the product is fully optimized. Given the complexities of the interplay between flavors, sweeteners and other beverage components, this holistic, collaborative approach is extremely beneficial for achieving the taste, cost and mouthfeel attributes desired by brand owners in this space.
“Our unique approach and depth of experience from a beverage development standpoint has been significantly enhanced by the formalization and expansion of our Taste Modulation Team.” said Chief Commercial Officer Andy Dratt. “As consumer demand for products with both healthier ingredients and functional benefits continues to grow, our expertise in addressing these taste-related issues becomes even more critical.”
While Imbibe’s sweetness and masking system tools work well in any beverage, the team has become particularly adept in applying them to new and innovative products within the natural, sports nutrition, plant-based and coffee product spaces. These beverage types present unique challenges given the taste and stability issues from the key functional ingredients, but the team has honed their skills through thousands of hours of development work in these platforms.
In addition to creating a tool that improves the taste and texture of a product, the Taste Modulation Team also ensures that each customer’s customized formula is stable throughout processing and operationally possible to produce. The Taste Modulation Team also works closely with Imbibe’s in-house regulatory team to navigate complex regulations in this space for sweeteners and FMPs as well as the differences in regulations between US, Canada and other markets.