High-quality plant compounds for the food industry

The food industry has detected a growing consumer demand for natural flavourings and aromatics. Food brands want to give their customers a greater choice and are therefore looking for authentic and natural ingredients for their products.

The food industry has detected a growing consumer demand for natural flavourings and aromatics. Food brands want to give their customers a greater choice and are therefore looking for authentic and natural ingredients for their products.

The Centre of Expertise for Plant Compounds is helping market parties in their search for alternative flavourings based on plant compounds. One such collaborative project took place with Givaudan, an international producer of flavourings and aromatics. This company is looking for a powerful bell pepper flavouring and has high hopes that the horticulture sector can effectively meet this demand.

KCP began by conducting a literature study into the varieties and maturity stages of the fruits with the highest concentrations of this flavouring. Then breeding company Enza was asked to join the project as a partner. In cooperation with a market gardener from Westland, eleven breeds with different genetic sources were selected and cultivated. The fruit from each source was analysed in 2 maturity stages and the content of the requested flavouring was measured. This showed a significant variation in the flavouring content of the numerous genetic sources. Based on the test results, a second round of tests was set up with additional genetic materials. In the best scoring variety, the concentration of flavourings was more than twice as high as the best variety in the first round, which made it interesting enough to continue the project.

In 2016, this research was continued with additional genetic materials in combination with specific cultivation measures. As part of the research, the Centre of Expertise commissioned KeyGene to study cultivation factors that have a positive influence on the aroma content. These factors will be included in the follow-up tests to be conducted around the middle of next year.

The food industry has also said it is interested in including the typical tomato aroma in their delivery programme. In an initial exploratory study, extracts were taken from the aroma segment in tomato stalks in a number of top varieties. They were then assessed by flavour experts working for a flavouring producer and were deemed to be very attractive for further use. It remains to be seen how this exploratory study will be followed up.