January 29, 2023

Synergy Flavours innovates cuisine pairings for low and no-alcohol beverages

Synergy Flavours has crafted flavour pairings for premium soft drinks and alcohol-free beverages that complement some of the UK’s favourite global cuisines, including Indian, Italian, Greek, British, Chinese, and Thai, to optimise dining experiences. The cuisine-paired profiles follow Synergy’s launch of botanical extracts in January 2022, targeted at the low- and no-alcohol category.

The new flavour combinations include a mango, lime, and mint blend, which complements the flavours typically found in Indian cuisine, and pineapple, coconut, and lemongrass, to work in harmony with the tastes of Thai dishes. Other perfectly paired creations include; Sicilian lemon and bergamot to pair with Italian cuisine; salted cherry and ginger to compliment Chinese cuisine; plum, orange and chilli which works in harmony with the British roast dinner and finally green tea, lemon and mint which can accompany Greek fare.

A Good Sense Research report commissioned by Synergy found a staggering 87% of respondents commented that they were interested in purchasing a soft drink which would pair with their chosen cuisine. This demonstrates a clear need and opportunity for both soft drinks and non-alcoholic beverages to add value with more exciting options for mindful consumers. There is the opportunity to create balanced and refreshing drinks with optimised pairings that are more interesting than water, but pair better than a sweet cola or lemonade.

The low- and no-alcohol market is predicted to grow by 67% to £286 million by 2026 (Mintel), and with 49% of UK adults reporting to not drink any alcohol, or planning to reduce intake, this translates to 25 million potential consumers of low- and no-alcohol or premium soft drinks (Club Soda). The beverage market is therefore primed for innovation, to diversify and enhance options for consumers who are looking for an alternative to alcohol.

Vicky Berry, Senior European Business Development Manager, Synergy Flavours commented, “Carefully crafted and paired flavours in soft drinks can encourage the same attention to cuisine compatibility that is well established in wine and has become commonplace in beer. We have seen from our commissioned research that 55% of adults choose water or sparkling water with a main – so there is a real opportunity to capture the attention of the water drinker with more interesting beverages which taste nice on their own, while also enhancing the taste of a dish. We take inspiration from other beverage categories as well – for example, alcoholic beverages or tonics. In mixers, we are seeing more herbs and spices appear including lemongrass, basil, and peppercorn.”

Flavour research analyst, Charlotte Spitzner, Synergy Flavours, explains, “We approach developing flavours which pair with cuisines by exploring key aroma compounds in a specific cuisine, using a combination of in-house analysis and extraction techniques, alongside our research platforms and databases.”

Food items that share flavour compounds have the potential to pair well with each other and improve the overall sensory experience of the consumer. After investigating possible pairings informed by science, Research Analysts then work with application and flavour development teams to create the best performing flavour combinations for the specific food item. As an example, to pair with the UK’s favourite global cuisine, Indian, Synergy developed a pairing of mango, lime and mint. The mango pairs with Citronellol (key compound in pepper) while lime compliments Cuminaldehyde (cumin) and Eucalyptol (pepper). Refreshing notes of mint do not only scientifically pair with Indian cuisine but also help to cut through the rich body of some Indian dishes. For Thai cuisine, Synergy paired pineapple, coconut, and lemongrass as a compliment to prominent Neral (lemongrass), Cuminaldehyde (cumin) and Aldehyde C18 (coconut).

According to Synergy, the entirety of the drinking experience should be considered when innovating with cuisine-paired beverages – using coconut water for example within a beverage can deliver a slight savoury-salt taste which compliments a meal. Balancing sugar and acidity can also help to create a beverage that delivers an optimised experience when consumed alongside food.

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