Flavours are considered natural when they are obtained from a plant, animal or microbiological source. These requirements are set out in the EG Flavouring Regulation so that consumers have access to extensive information.

A natural flavour can consist of either a specific flavouring substance or a more complex mixture of multiple substances interact to create the authentic flavour. As a result, the natural flavour of raspberry contains an intense substance – the raspberry ketone – which embodies the fruit’s character. With butter flavour, on the other hand, multiple substances act in concert and only create the authentic flavour in combination.

Where and why are natural flavours used?

Natural flavours can be used as food additives. Manufacturers use them to enhance the flavours of processed foods such as fruit yogurts. There are two reasons for this: on one hand, the demand for some flavours is so high that meeting it solely through the use of “authentic” source materials is either not profitable or simply impossible.

In other words, it is impossible to plant enough raspberries to cover the demand for raspberry fruit yoghurt, raspberry ice cream, raspberry jam, etc. Instead of drastically reducing the supply of such foods or raising their prices so high that only a small minority of consumers are able to afford them, one makes use, in this case, of raspberry flavouring in order to accentuate and complete the taste with natural flavours.
On the other hand, parts of the fruit’s own flavour are lost during further processing in connection with the respective application. For instance, the lactic acid in yoghurt breaks down the natural flavour of the fruits in it. With food flavourings, which are many times more concentrated than the share of natural flavouring substances in fruit, it is therefore also possible to maintain the flavour intensity of a product such as fruit yoghurt. This ensures that the product always meets the defined quality and flavour standards.

Whenever flavourings are used in food, they must be clearly marked and specified in the list of ingredients.

How are natural flavours obtained?

A variety of different methods are used to obtain a natural flavouring. Extraction is the most common method and produces the most authentic results. In the process, natural source materials diffuse their flavour into a liquid, which they are placed in.

However, this kind of production is not always possible: In many cases, there is a discrepancy between the availability of the natural source materials and the need for corresponding flavourings. In order to meet the high demand for certain food ingredients, other techniques are used to obtain natural flavourings. They include distillation and fermentation.

Distilling is used to split more complex flavouring profiles into individual flavouring substances. For instance, the flavouring components, which are also in raspberries and are responsible for its authentic flavour, can also be specially removed from cedar wood extract. This is referred to as “natural flavouring (raspberry).

Fermentation works in a similar manner: In the process, micro-organisms such as yeasts, fungi or enzymes produce special flavouring substances through metabolic processes, which taste e.g. like peach, nut or coconut. Put very simply, the organisms “replicate” the chemical structure of the desired flavouring substances as they also occur in nature. The flavouring component produced in this manner is then isolated through filtration, purified and is also considered a natural flavouring.

Unlike flavouring extracts, natural flavouring substances obtained in this manner preserve precious food resources and, in many cases, are often more affordable. Only in this way, is it at all possible to meet global demand for some flavours. Please visit our information page for more details regarding the individual methods for the manufacture of flavourings.

 

How is natural flavouring labelled?

Anyone who has had a closer look at the ingredients in convenience foods will notice that there are different kinds of flavouring labelling. For instance, for the characteristic that something tastes like vanilla, the following designations are common in the flavouring industry: natural vanilla flavouring, natural vanilla flavouring, vanilla extract and vanillin. The EC Flavouring Regulation sets out the exact details of what this information means.

 

Natural flavouring (Vanilla)

This term means that at least 95 per cent of the flavouring must come from real vanilla. The remaining 5% may come from other source materials, which must also be natural. If, however, less than 95 per cent of the flavouring comes from real vanilla bean, the prescribed labelling reads “natural vanilla flavouring with other natural flavourings”

Vanilla extract

Similar to natural vanilla flavouring, the term “vanilla extract” proves that real vanilla beans were used for its production. They are placed in a solvent such as alcohol or water, to which they diffuse their natural flavour. The source materials are then filtered back out of the flavour extract.

Vanillin

“Vanillin” is the flavouring substance that decisively embodies the typical character of vanilla. It gives the spice its authenticity. Vanillin occurs in real vanilla beans, but also in other source materials such as rice. Likewise, its structure can also be replicated synthetically in order to produce vanilla flavouring.

Vanilla flavouring

Without any further additive, this term indicates that the vanilla flavouring was produced synthetically. Further subdivision into “natural identical” and “artificial” flavourings, as was done in the past, has since been removed from the EC Flavouring Regulation as of 2017. In the past, nature identical referred to synthetically manufactured flavourings whose structure, however, was replicated in naturally occurring flavouring substances. On the other hand, artificial flavourings refers to compositions, which are not naturally occurring and are designed by a food chemist. The latter are only used to a limited extent in exceptional cases.

 

Natural flavours at Pure Flavour

To the extent possible, we at Pure Flavour of course use natural flavourings for our products.

What are the advantages of flavourings?

With the Pure Flavour food flavourings, you can add more flavour to certain meals. Flavourings make it easy for you to try new things, be inventive and combine various flavours. However, you also have the chance to once again enjoy food that you are no longer able to or allowed to consume for dietary reasons.

As a result, with diabetes for example, food flavourings also provide an attractive way to once again experience more flavour without having to worry about whether there is too much sugar. However, flavourings are also perfect for athletes, food-conscious people, those who refrain from eating sugar and those who like to try something new. After all, with Pure Flavour, you decide what to sweet your food with and how sweet it should be.