Regional Tastes Speak Volumes

Virginia Dare to unveil research findings at IFT

Global flavors have been attracting attention as consumers seek flavor adventures in our shrinking world. But for the IFT 2007 Annual Meeting and FoodExpo (July 28-Aug. 1 in Chicago), Viginia Dare will unveil taste opportunities that hit closer to home. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based manufacturer has built its reputation through beverage and sweet flavoring expertise and its latest round of research will further the company’s leadership role. Anton Angelich, group vice president of marketing for Virginia Dare, discusses the company’s research and how it will influence product development in the beverage and food industry.
Q: Tell us about your current research project?
A: We’re testing a hypothesis: We think people are interested in comforting, regional foods, along with food that provides a nutritional boost.
We see some overlapping consumer preference themes, including a strong interest in health, wellness and homeopathy. We also see a theme of comfort and retro foods. Throw into that mix our global village; as people migrate around the world, they bring their flavors with them.
Q: Can you give us an example?
A: Cajun/Creole/New Orleans foods will score high across the board. These foods have been around long enough they’ve become part of our going-out or eating-in foodway. And these foods have regional links.
Q: How are you culling the information?
A: We ask about familiarity and preference for many regional tastes, including New England/ Yankee, Tex-Mex, Soul Food, Hawaiian/ Polynesian, Pennsylvania Dutch/Amish and Native American/Indian. We delve into flavors as well, from mango and toffee to vanilla and apple. We are asking for information about attributes — including ingredient statements or packaging — that are important to consumers. We also ask about health concerns, from osteoporosis to eye health, cardiovascular health to cancer.
Q: Can you tell us about the findings?
A: The results will be shared at a press conference on Monday, July 30th. Results will show certain preferences for tastes that have been overlooked in the past. When companies put together products it’s often based on something like a peach, with a focus on the peach flavor. But the winning delivery could be peach cobbler, which is more complex, but based on people’s comfort with that tradition.
Taste rules, and that’s an important message. Looking at past studies between success and new products, the highest scores are taste and familiarity. If people are familiar with them, they have a good chance of succeeding. Taste is difficult when you have a lifetime of food history behind it.
Q: What will you be showcasing at IFT?
A: We’ll have products that tie in with results from the survey. There are a lot of baked goods that tie into Southern Traditional cuisine, such as pie. New England is known for brown flavors like maple. We’ll sample healthy breakfast and cereal snack bars that contain fiber, vitamins and protein. We’ll also be tapping into our expertise with healthy beverages, including smoothies with certain nutrients; and a soy product for heart health.
Rebranded sweetener
Cargill has branded its erythritol product line formerly known as Eridex under a new name, Zerose erythritol, to better convey that the all-natural sweetener contains “zero sugar, zero calories, zero aftertaste and zero artificial ingredients.” Zerose is a bulk sweetener that tastes and functions like sugar in beverages, dairy products and confections that appeal to consumers who want to manage their weight or sugar levels or sugar intake. Like sugar, it reduces water activity in a food product, provides volume and provides the freeze point depression needed in many frozen treats. The brand launch includes the introduction of a new consumer education web site at, designed to answer questions about erythritol and explain its benefits as a natural sugar alternative.
— Cargill, 15407 McGinty Road West, Wayzata, Minn. 55391;; 800/227-4455.
Acai concentrate
A&B Ingredients has made its Acai juice concentrate available in North America. In making the announcement, A&B Ingredients’ Managing Director Gil Bakal said, “Acai is one of those remarkable natural fruits that are full of antioxidants, amino acids and essential omegas. In fact, many studies have shown that the Acai berry is one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world. We are pleased to be able to offer the beverage industry this incredible fruit in concentrate form, which means manufacturers can enjoy the same advantages of Acai pulp, while paying less freight and having greater control over inventory. In short, you can produce more with fewer raw materials.” The Acai concentrate is 32 times more concentrated than pulp, plus it is clarified to make it easier to work with.
— A&B Ingredients, 24 Spielman Road, Fairfield, N.J. 07004; 973-227-1390;
Scientific results
Glanbia Nutritionals says a new report confirms its Prolibra has been clinically proven to have a significant impact on fat loss and muscle mass retention. In a 12-week double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers found that adults consuming Prolibra lost 82 percent more fat than the placebo group, and retained twice as much lean muscle mass. According to the company, retention of lean muscle mass during dieting contributes to a healthy basal metabolic rate, which can eliminate the effects of yo-yo dieting. It says the synergistic effect of Prolibra’s components, including proprietary whey peptides, contributed to significant fat loss while preserving lean muscle mass.
— Glanbia Nutritionals Inc., 523 6th Street, Monroe Wis. 53566; 608-329-2800;
Seal of guarantee
DSM Nutritional Products has introduced the Teavigo Seal-of-Guarantee to indicate the Teavigo green tea ingredient’s standardized, guaranteed purity level, which meets a minimum of 94 percent on dry basis. The ingredient is applicable to a range of applications including foods, beverages and dietary supplements. The company says Teavigo is free of caffeine, herbicides and pesticide residue and has little to no impact on taste and color.
DSM Nutritional Products, 45 Waterview Blvd., Parsippany, N.J. 07054; 800/526-0189;