What’s the Real Difference Between Natural and Artificial Flavor?

What’s the Real Difference Between Natural and Artificial Flavor?

Flavorists play one of the most important roles in the food and beverage industry, from coming up with new and innovative ideas for custom flavors to driving the next big flavor trends. They must pair their creative instincts with a solid understanding of industry terms, chemistry, and the science behind the way that flavors actually work.

One of the most important things for a flavorist to take into consideration when making their products is the difference between natural and artificial flavor. On the surface, defining the difference between the two may seem simple. After all, a natural flavor comes from a natural source, while a synthetic or artificial flavor is produced in a laboratory – right? In actual fact, the answer may not be as clear cut as it would seem.

Many buyers may not be aware that natural or artificial, most flavors are created in a laboratory. While this may seem obvious to flavorists and to producers of flavor ingredients, this may come as a surprise to many consumers. Additionally, the fact that a flavor ingredient derived from a natural source may still contain chemical compounds and ingredients in the makeup of the final product may be a big surprise to consumers.

The fact is, defining the real difference between a natural and an artificial flavor ingredient can sometimes be difficult even for those within the industry. The line between “natural” and “artificial” is grayer than many might think.

But why is this important? The food and beverage industry has operated with these two definitions, which are largely legal in nature, for labeling flavor ingredients for a number of years. However, the industry is changing – and these changes are largely being driven by the way that consumers are beginning to rethink the foods and beverages that they consume on a regular basis.

In the past, natural was more often than not a sign of quality, indicating that a flavor in a food or beverage product was more pure, and consisted of “better” ingredients than those of competitors. However, “natural” in the modern world has taken on entirely new meaning, with more individuals than ever looking for food products that contain no added chemicals whatsoever that are completely derived from a natural source, that do not use animal products at any point in their production, and that are entirely organic-compliant.

In the creation of natural food and beverage products, it is therefore important for a flavorist to hone in on the highest quality and most natural of their flavor ingredients among those that already fall within the natural category. New extraction techniques within the flavor industry have made harnessing the flavors of natural fruits, vegetables, and botanical ingredients in their purest form easier than ever.

Utilizing natural ingredients offers flavorists the ability to give consumers the high quality, all-natural ingredients that they crave while still delivering the best-tasting product possible. And as a bonus, it’s no more difficult to use these flavor ingredients than any other synthetic or natural ingredient already available to flavorists.