Consumer demand for naturally-flavored foods spawning new products

The crusade against artificial flavors is getting louder around the world, with more and more health-conscious consumers seeking out naturally-flavored products, according to a food market research group.

In its latest report "Global Food Additives Market," UK-based group Leatherhead singles out the growing demand for products bearing the phrase "no artificial flavors of colors," reported industry online publication FoodNavigator.com this week.

It's a demand that will likely see more products purporting to be free of certain additives. For example, the report identified the growing awareness of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and its negative health effects as the next ubiquitous label - MSG-free -  that will be popping up on processed food products on grocery store shelves.

It could also prove to hurt the Asian food market where MSG is one of the most common flavor enhancers in their products.

Meanwhile, food scientists are already trying feverishly to extract more flavor enhancers from natural sources.

In a study published in the International Journal of Food Science & Technology last week, researchers said they were able to draw out a meaty flavor profile from fermented oyster mushrooms which could become an important, all-natural flavor enhancer.

Another group of scientists is working to pin down and extract elusive umami compounds found in certain foods, a flavor also described as meaty, broth-like and savory. The 'fifth basic taste' is being touted as a flavor enhancer that could add taste and reduce the sodium content of foods.

And international food conglomerate Unilever is currently working on a way to reduce salt levels by adding savory aromatic smells to foods like instant bouillon cubes, in order to mask the taste of sodium replacers like potassium chloride.

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