Embrace New Spice
By Ryan Till, Product Manager — Packaging Materials, Flavorseal
Over the past decade, there has been a tremendous shift in the way consumers approach food and flavor. According to the Institute of Food Technologists, 57 percent of Americans
consider themselves adventurous eaters and 82 percent are open
to trying new flavors. The result has been an explosion in demand
for new, exciting and innovative flavors in every area of the grocery store from snack foods to instant potatoes. Proteins are no
Unfortunately, the technological advancements to efficiently add
spice and flavors to proteins during processing has not kept up
with the boost in consumer demand for new flavors. Traditional
seasoning techniques usually result in labor-intensive and time-consuming changeovers, wasted spice and inconsistent flavor.
Tumble marination, for example, is effective for seasoning large
quantities of whole meats, but results in expensive waste of
spice that is discarded after the tumble process. Hand application
of seasonings to the surface of a protein is another option, but
results in a far less consistent application, as well as additional
production time and cost for labor and cleanup of loose spice in
the production area.
Processed meats (like deli meats) most frequently have flavoring added within the meat block through injection. Because this
method requires reformulation of the meat block with each new
flavor, which can be a slow and complex process, it can be difficult to develop and incorporate new flavors quickly.
Seasoning transfer is a recent innovation that addresses
the challenges associated with applying flavors to proteins on
the production line. With this technology, seasoning blends are
pre-applied to a substrate, like plastic sheets and casings,
already used in food processing plants. The seasoning remains
on the substrate until it comes in contact with the protein. The
moisture in the protein
releases the seasoning,
causing it to transfer to
the surface of the protein,
leaving a consistent spice
offers many other advan-
tages over traditional
application methods. The
of spice reduces the
amount of wasted spice
and lengthy changeover
by shaker or hand
because the same
meat block can be
used for multiple
flavors with just a change of the casing, new product development
time can be greatly reduced.
When it comes to choosing new flavors for proteins, meat processors have preferred to stay somewhat conservative in their flavor choices. But the ease of application in new seasoning methods
like seasoning transfer technology make it possible for processors
to react quickly to changing trends like never before.
Some of the new flavors profiles that meat processors will be
exploring in the next year include:
• Spicy blends – Spicy flavors have steadily increased in popularity among consumers of all age groups. Fifty-four percent
of consumers now state a preference for spicy/bold flavors,
up from 46 percent just five years ago (Source: U.S. Flavor
Consumer Trend Report). Yet, although they prefer spicy flavors, it does not necessarily mean hot. A mild pepper blend or
jalapeño can provide just a bit of heat and still have tremendous impact on the overall flavor of the protein. For turkey,
chicken and beef, spicy flavors are a reliable choice.
• Sweet Heat – Balancing the heat of a strong spice with a
sweet element, this complex flavor combination is natural
with pork or chicken. Many barbecue sauces already play
on this idea, mixing sweet flavoring like honey with smoky
flavors like chipotle. The potential combination of sweet and
spicy flavors is almost limitless.
• Ethnic Flavors – From classic Mexican and Italian flavors to
newer Asian flavors like Sriracha, ethnic flavors are more
popular than ever. The lighter Mediterranean flavors of lemon,
garlic and herb are particularly appropriate for delicate fish
that may be overwhelmed with other flavors. Asian flavors
like wasabi and curry work well on pork, chicken or beef.
Consumers aren’t just asking for innovative and stimulating new
flavors, they are expecting it. Processors who fail to meet these
expectations will fall behind. Adding flavors to proteins doesn’t
have to be the time-consuming process that it used to be. New
technologies like seasoning transfer make it easy to anticipate
changing consumer trends to quickly develop and produce bold
flavored products consumers want.
This month's topic: