The Flavor Research and Education Center was founded on a commitment to provide healthy food with great flavor. Through our collaborative approach to fundamental research and focus on health, wellness and sustainability, we enable translation of data into impactful industrial solutions. To provide valuable solutions, we keep our research platform aligned with the current and potential new challenges facing the food and flavor industries.
Health & Wellness
The flavor quality of food is known to be one of the main criteria that influences food choice, and therefore, is a key component of healthy eating. The reality is, people generally eat what they like. The healthiest food products can have limited societal impact if the population, as a whole, does not consume them. For example, even though experts advise at least half of the recommended grain intake should be from whole grains, less than 10% of the American population consumes the minimum recommended amount. From a manufacturing standpoint, the development of high flavor quality, healthier food choices is challenging. For example, when foods are manufactured with whole grain flour instead of refined wheat flour, lower product acceptability is often observed, directly affecting consumption. Similar challenges occur when manufacturing lower sodium and sugar food products. If food manufacturers find new approaches to increase their usage of whole grain flour and/or reduce sodium and sugar in their products, while maintaining consumer acceptability, progress will be made towards encouraging healthier food choices.
The Flavor Center is committed to working with the food industry and researchers involved in agriculture to develop solutions to improve the flavor quality of healthier food choices, ultimately promoting consumption and related favorable health impacts. Current projects include improving the palatability of whole grain foods, and foods formulated with reduced sugar, salt, and fat. Providing effective strategies to increase the consumption of healthier foods, in partnership with the food industry, can have immense health and economic benefits.
The Flavor Research and Education Center works closely with various stakeholders that focus their efforts on the advancement of food crops and ingredients by conventional breeding and cultivation practices. A goal is to develop food materials that are naturally more flavorful while maintaining advantageous traits for production such as yield, disease resistance, and environmental health. Agronomists and horticulturists can utilize this information to bring more sustainable source materials to the market with flavor characteristics that provide enhanced consumer acceptability.
One example, intermediate wheatgrass (IWG), has been identified as a potential sustainable alternative to wheat based products due to its beneficial agronomic and environmental properties, as well as its rich nutritional profile. However, for IWG to be utilized for food production, flavor acceptability is essential. Little is known regarding the flavor profile of IWG, hindering the development of flavor improvement methods and utilization of the grain as a viable sustainable crop. Flavor Center researchers have been actively investigating IWG flavor by identifying the flavor components and attributes critical for developing advanced breeding lines for food applications. In this way, the work we will contribute stands to significantly influence the future viability and use of IWG as a more sustainable alternative grain.
In addition, our analytical platform operates in a sustainable manner. As stewards of sustainability we strive to weave this commitment across our own research and business related efforts, and partner with our member companies to address marketplace challenges in sustainability.