Culinology May_June 2012 - (Page 8)

EMERGING TRENDS Kokumi: Flavor from aging It is common knowledge aged wine and cheese taste better than newer versions, but many consumers do not know there is a name for the flavor concept: kokumi. “In a nutshell, kokumi is the concept of aging,” said Joseph Formanek, associate director of business development and application innovation for Ajinomoto North America, Fort Lee, NJ. Dr. Formanek said a good example of kokumi includes beef stew or a sauce that is simmered over a period of hours to build flavor, aroma and complexity. Another example may be if the sauce is stored in the refrigerator and heated the next day, and it delivers more flavors when consumed the next day. Most of the research on this concept has been conducted in Japan. “Kokumi takes into account all of those tastes [salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami] as well as that harmony aspect. … Then you also have expansion of flavor on the palate,” Dr. Formanek said. He said harmony in a food may be defined by its richness, if the flavor is spiky or not and if there is a marriage of flavors. Dr. Formanek said kokumi is established when proteins are broken into peptides, and peptides are what elicit the kokumi response in the brain. “We have found the body recognizes these peptides that send signals to the brain that are very similar to those signals you would have from a basic taste, except it doesn’t give you a taste per se, but it moderates the other tastes,” Dr. Formanek said. “But it lights up the brain in the same region the other tastes do.” The kokumi concept is being advanced by Ajinomoto and Givaudan Flavors Corp., Cincinnati, with Ajinomoto taking a scientific approach and Givaudan looking at possible culinary applications. “We have a pretty good understanding of how it works; now it’s just a matter of looking at new combinations and understanding how you can bring in other flavors or other ingredients in with the kokumi to deliver a more preferred product,” Dr. Formanek said. Yet there are always more questions to be answered, according to Kevin McDermott, technical sales with Savoury Systems International, Branchburg, NJ. “I want to learn the science behind why these amino acids carry flavorenhancing characteristics as opposed to stand-alone flavor,” Mr. McDermott said. “Also, so many flavor enhancers are developed by unlinking the peptide bonds and freeing the molecular ions to stimulate the taste buds. This flavor carries flavor-enhancing qualities with a peptide linkage. Is that related, or is it just the aminos that are linked that carry an ionic sensory stimulation?” Targeted innovation becoming the norm The economic recession has led to a decline in new food and beverage product introductions in the US, according to the market research firm SymphonyIRI. As a result, manufacturers have shifted their focus toward targeted innovation and introducing new products that fill a need within a niche rather than developing products that may appeal to the broader consumer market. Examples of such targeted innovation include the introduction of gluten-free products and the development mid-calorie carbonated soft drinks that fill the space between regular soft drinks and their diet counterparts. Each year, SymphonyIRI publishes its list of New Product Pacesetters, those new products introduced during 2011 that achieved the highest dollar sales based on scanning data collected by the company. Products on this year’s list include PF Chang’s Home Menu products from Unilever with $101.6 million in sales during the first year on the market. Other products on this year’s New Products Pacesetters list were Thomas’ Bagel Thins from Bimbo Bakeries USA with $73.6 million in sales; Oscar Mayer Selects from Kraft Foods Inc. at $69.2 million; and Folgers Gourmet Selections K-Cups at $58.4 million. “These are not lining up to be $100 million blockbuster success stories. Frankly, they don’t need to because they fill a compelling need and should attract a loyal following,” said Larry Levin, executive vice-president of consumer insights for SymphonyIRI. Compared with previous years, year-one dollar sales for the 2011 New Product Pacesetters were down. “I don’t think it’s just the recession that’s driving yearone dollar sales down,” said Susan Viamari, editor of SymphonyIRI’s “Times and Trends” newsletter. “I think it’s the fact marketers are really doing a phenomenal job of keying into consumer needs at a more targeted level, so they are able to bring to market more targeted products that are really changing the definition of success.” 8 | Culinology | MAY/JUNE 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Culinology May_June 2012

Culinology May_June 2012
Table of Contents
President's Letter - Preparing for future challenges
Upcoming Events
Emerging Trends - Kokumi: Flavor from aging
Emerging Trends - Targeted innovation becoming the norm
Emerging Trends - Soup, salads showing strength on the menu
Competition - Going for Gold
Member Profile - Diving into the deep
Interview - Learning from experience
Ingredient Technology - Guat Gum bubble inflates
Chocolate - A winning combination
Petits Fours - Hispanics, singles altering retail trends
Petits Fours - Black Boar Truffle named 2012 product of the year
Petits Fours - Temperature and the intensity of taste
Ad Index

Culinology May_June 2012