Facing both regulatory and consumer pressures to reduce sugar content, the soft drink industry has continued to evolve over the last decade, with the latest expected surge in demand attributed to the production of a new wave of products that offer healthier and/or more natural ingredients.
Despite consumers’ desire for healthier alternatives, however, it has become clear that they are not ready to sacrifice their traditional soft drink tastes. As a result, beverage manufacturers have had to get creative with sweetener alternatives in recent years, experimenting with everything from artificial to natural replacements.
But because these new sweeteners have a direct impact on sensory attributes of a beverage, including mouthfeel and taste, creating a new, low or no sugar formula can be a very complicated process for manufacturers, requiring multiple formulations and sensory panels to reach a new, final product. Let’s take a look at how digital olfaction can help manufacturers get ahead in the increasingly competitive and complex soft drink industry.
Leveraging digital olfaction to streamline manufacturing
Odor plays a strong role in the taste and experience of any beverage. With digital olfaction technology, manufacturers can leverage the olfactive data captured from a new beverage formulation candidate and compare it to both the original source and other formulas for the best result. This helps manufacturers quickly and effectively screen large numbers of reformulations based on their smell and enables R&D teams to use the analysis to better inform formulation development with consistent, objective odor data.
While traditional e-noses have often struggled with samples that contain a high amount of water—making beverage comparison and discrimination a difficult use case to address – Aryballe’s new bio-based methods not only allow the discrimination of beverages, but also those with extremely close odor profiles, like cola soft drinks or flavored waters. Although Aryballe’s digital olfaction technology does not fully replace the need for human panels to test the overall taste of these new soft drinks, the tool shortens and streamlines the original product screening process, enabling manufacturers to bring only the highest performing products to human panels for consideration, saving both time and money in the testing process.
This year, Aryballe conducted a study that examined samples of two commercially available brands of cola soft drinks with varying sweetener content, demonstrating that manufacturers can leverage the olfactive data captured to compare a new formulation candidate against an existing portfolio to measure its intensity, olfactive signature and similarity.