Flavor houses are responsible for developing the desired flavor profile of your infused product. If you are looking for a fully customized flavor, then you will benefit from engaging a professional flavor house for your research & development process. Before selecting a flavor house, here are some things to know.
type of development service
Understand the services you need (or don’t need). If you’re at the beginning of your development process and require assistance or full formulation, you can start with flavor houses that offer development services for a fee. You will want to check if the flavor house offers flavor development only, or if they offer full-scale product development for food or beverage products with additional services. Additional services may include creating the nutrition fact panel, submission for certifications, and recommendations on co-packing partners. It can also be beneficial to look for specialized flavor houses that focus specifically on your type of product - like baked goods, confection items or beverages.
types of flavors, extracts, & essences in inventory
Get familiar with the types of flavors you want. There is a big difference between a true to fruit flavor, like a ripe banana with a few brown spots, compared to a candy banana flavor (banana Runts). Questions you can ask yourself during your search; does the flavor house offer off the shelf flavors, extracts and essences? Does the flavor house offer custom development services to create a custom liquid or powdered flavor? You will also want to voice any concerns around any off-notes in your product. For example, you can request a bitter blocker to mask an undesired flavor from a functional ingredient. Typically, most flavor houses will not charge a fee for custom development as long as you meet the minimum order quantity.
minimum order quantity (moq)
Know how much flavor you plan to order up front. Depending on your order size, you may be limited to the flavor houses willing to work on your product. Some flavor houses require a minimum order quantity that can be relatively high. This is a critical question to ask early on to ensure they’re a good fit for your business size.
turn around times (tat's)
What is your turnaround time from request to delivery for samples and production? An average TAT for a custom flavor development is typically around four weeks, so be sure to build that into your production schedule. For a full scale production, you will need to build in a lead time between 2 – 16 weeks depending on the flavor you select and quantity you require.
Once you select a flavor house and formally engage them, make sure you request the certifications for each flavor you choose to be added to your product. Different types of certifications you might require include Kosher, Organic and non-GMO certified options.
You will need to know what your labeling boundaries are for the flavors you choose. Request guidance from your Flavor house regarding what claims can be made on the final product label. This request goes hand in hand with the request for certifications. Some claim examples:
- Extracts only (vanilla extract)
- Type Flavor (vanilla type flavor)
- With other natural flavors aka WONF (vanilla with other natural flavors)
- Artificial flavor (artificial vanilla)
- Organic flavor
- Vegan flavor
Flavor training courses
Some flavor houses will offer training courses on tasting flavors to help you learn the vocabulary. If you’re a first time product developer, this will be valuable training to help you provide the most useful feedback when going through the flavor selection process. Some flavor houses will do in person or offer remote flavor tasting training. You can also check if there are also “flavor wheels” provided that can help guide you in identifying what flavor profile you’re looking for.
Flashpoint of the flavors
Flavors have volatiles; these are part of what makes them taste great. The flash point of a volatile material is the lowest temperature at which its vapors ignite if given an ignition source. You will need to know the flashpoint of the flavors you're receiving from the selected flavor house. This information is important for storage during your development phase. The information you receive on the flashpoint of your flavors should be relayed to your manufacturing partner, so they can appropriately store your flavors. Many flavors are kept in an explosion proof ventilated cabinet as they have low flash points. Some may be okay with refrigeration or you can request a flashpoint above 110F, but this may limit your flavor options.
flavor loss over time
Each food product is unique in its ability to hold onto flavor. Some food products lose some of the impact of the flavor over time, as the volatiles are lost. It is important to be aware of this phenomenon as it may be necessary to add more flavor to a food product to account for this loss. Typically one to two months aging is a good time point to taste a food product and ensure the flavor level has been maintained.
Each flavor, extract and essence will have a different shelf life. It’s good to know the expiration of each of your selected flavors. Request the shelf life of your flavor for both the unopened and opened packaging. You must also be able to understand what happens before, during and after shipment of the finished product. Would there be any effects if products are shipped together? Mint is notorious for flavor migration through packaging from one product to another.
Selecting a Flavor House can be a strenuous process but if you follow these steps you can mitigate any issues before they arise. Vertosa takes pride in supporting our brands from beginning to end of the infused product creation process. If you need a referral to a Flavor House, connect with one of our team members today and we’ll connect you to some of our favorites.