Food and nutraceutical brands around the world know that flavoring is one of the most important ways to build brand loyalty among consumers. At Vitaquest, we help our customers build brand loyalty by going above and beyond to deliver unique flavoring solutions that differentiate their products from run-of-the-mill nutraceutical supplements offered by their competitors.
It starts right at the beginning of the product development stage. When a customer wants to introduce a new flavored nutritional supplement, they meet with our product development team to describe the type of flavor they are trying to create. Right now, we have a library of hundreds of active flavors that can be used to make a product taste like anything you can imagine—from popular flavors like chocolate and vanilla, to seasonal flavors like pumpkin spice, Christmas cookie and peppermint. During product development, customers are invited to visit our facilities, or receive samples to taste test the product and help us fine-tune the flavor to deliver exactly what they want. Our team is filled with highly knowledgeable scientists who work to meet the exacting demands of our customers’ taste buds, with the direction of Robin Rusinko, our in-house Flavor Chemist.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]What’s a Flavor Chemist? Someone who is an expert in creating flavors from raw materials approved by GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) and FEMA (Flavoring Extracts Manufacturer’s Association). The journey to become a certified Flavor Chemist is very demanding. To do so, a person must complete a seven-year apprenticeship program approved by the Society of Flavor Chemists. Since its inception in 1954, the Society has only certified 700 flavor chemists around the world, and only 400 of them remain active today, including Robin.1
“I spent a lot of time compounding various flavors during my apprenticeship, and that’s where I learned what ingredients are needed to create different flavors such as strawberry or banana, for example—and I also learned that some of the same ingredients are used to create both flavors,” Robin recalls. “We determined what elements to use for strawberry by grinding a real strawberry, then analyzing those pieces to determine its biological makeup. From there, we could take what we found and create different variants of strawberry flavor—such as cooked or fresh strawberry.”
Robin has served as an expert flavorist for 30 years and has a discerning pallet that she uses to decipher minute variations in hundreds of different tastes. In her role at Vitaquest, she tastes all incoming existing flavors as part of our quality control process. When different flavors arrive, they’re evaluated by Robin and the product development team for new customized projects. After the product is completed, Robin and the team conduct another taste test to verify the final product tastes like it should. In addition, they also evaluate a sample from each batch of market products produced at Vitaquest, to ensure flavor consistency. This is an ongoing quality control process that requires Robin and her team of elite food scientists to taste test 20 to 30 samples each day.
In addition to meeting taste expectations, Robin must perform testing so that the consumer doesn’t taste anything undesirable. Vitaquest incorporates various flavor inhibitors to block tastes that are inherent in some ingredients and unwanted in the final product. These include masks for bitter, sour, soy, pea, and salt tastes.
“What others may not realize, is that it’s not just taste – you have to smell the products as well,” says Robin. “When a customer wants a supplement that tastes like pumpkin pie, for instance, we bring them in for taste and smell tests, so they can fully experience the flavor themselves.” Robin adds that the ability of olfactory senses to trigger cherished memories also plays a role in getting consumers to make a purchase: “When you smell certain odors, such as baked apples, it can bring you back to when you were a child making pies with your grandma. Vitaquest has flavors that we can incorporate into products that elicit that kind of experience.”
As a certified Flavor Chemist, Robin’s unique expertise is invaluable. She and the team of highly skilled food scientists are instrumental at Vitaquest in safeguarding our clients’ reputations through our commitment to delivering consistent and superior quality flavored nutritional supplements. Our ability to craft unique flavors is truly unrivaled in the nutraceutical industry. It sets our clients’ products apart. This allows them to establish a loyal customer base by offering a memorable taste experience.
If you’re interested in working with Vitaquest and Robin to Deliver What’s Next in nutraceutical flavoring, reach out to us today!