In the flavor industry, great taste is no longer enough. Today’s consumers covet “all-natural”, plant-based ingredients, and clean labels. They are more educated than ever about the ethical, societal, and environmental impacts of their purchasing decisions. With flavorists and food manufacturers looking to meet consumer demand on so many fronts, the shortcomings of traditional, resource-intensive, raw materials in flavor manufacturing, such as solvent or physical extraction of plants or animal products and chemical synthesis, are under pressure.

At Sensegen, our approach to flavor discovery and development utilizes a new, modern approach to deliver cleaner and more pure, natural, and planet-positive flavors for today’s foods and beverages. We serve consumer product innovators with high-quality, scalable, consistent, and customizable orchestras of taste and smell with significantly smaller environmental impacts than their predecessors. Our approach is called Molecular Precision and coupled with our biotechnology-forward creative palette, we can make cost-effective flavors that are cleaner, truer to nature in taste, and kinder to the environment.

Let’s take a look at how.

Being true to nature – optical activity

All aromatic or tasty materials (collectively known as flavors), regardless of their origins, are chemicals. Our tongues and noses are ultra-sensitive, analytical instruments, capable of precision chemical detection and interpretation.

Take, for instance, a widely used flavor and fragrance molecule, linalool. While most analytical instruments do not detect it, at a chemical level, linalool can occur in two different forms, called enantiomers.1 Each linalool enantiomer (called (laevo)-linalool and (dextro)-linalool) has the same chemical formula, but are mirror images of each other and (as their names imply) are spatially different in the same way your left hand differs from your right hand. And while obscure, this difference can make a dramatic difference in how our sensory organs perceive these chemicals.

This seemingly inconsequential difference profoundly changes linalool’s aromatic profile: (d)-linalool smells of tea or lavender, while (l)-linalool is a more woody, orange smell.2 Only optically pure chemicals are produced in nature, yet most chemical reactions are less precise, generating a mixture of two enantiomers. As a result, this can create a palate-confusing taste profile. 

With Molecular Precision and precision fermentation, we harness the activity of highly specific enzymes to convert natural plant material into natural flavoring materials that only contain the single enantiomer produced by the target plant, leading to flavor creations that taste truest to nature. 

Keeping flavors clean and precise

The continuously growing trend in consumer preferences, beyond clean labels, is for “clean products” across the taste, smell and beauty markets.  For Taste, it becomes products without unnecessary or unintended additives or ingredients and addresses many issues.

Aromatics isolated or extracted directly from plants may provide a complex bouquet of chemicals with attractive sensory profiles; however, it often includes materials that either detract from flavor delivery or have known allergenic components. Other challenges come from unintentional materials. Many materials can no longer be separated from plants due to ubiquitous residues including plasticizers and pesticides. Examples include polymethoxylated flavones from orange peel, which have excellent taste profiles as well as sweetness enhancement/bitterness blocking effects.

With Molecular Precision, our industry experts use materials that are identical to those found in nature, using everything they need and nothing they don’t. This enables us to apply the Bauhaus philosophy, “less is more,” with flavors that include only what we intend.

Minimal formulation, minimal environmental impact

Reliance on plant-based materials for flavor extraction can have a significant impact on the environment. Plant sources may be renewable, but not necessarily sustainable due to global climate change, seasonality, and geopolitical concerns. Chemical synthesis is often petroleum-dependent and utilizes catalysts with a negative environmental impact

Molecular Precision plus biotechnology allows us to significantly lower the carbon, water, and land footprints needed to produce natural, sustainable, and clean flavor components by 85% and greater.

To learn more about Molecular Precision, visit the Sensegen website.

  1. Enantiomer. Wikipedia website: Published January 31, 2022. Accessed February 28, 2022.
  2. Kamatou GPP, Viljoen AM. Linalool – a Review of a Biologically Active Compound of Commercial Importance. Nat Prod Commun. 2008;3(7):1183-1192.