Flavor Summit Delves Deep Into the Science of Taste

Josh McGill Citrus, Florida, Research

In late February, the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) hosted its second annual Flavor Summit. The hybrid in-person/online event was held at the Citrus Research and Education Center (CREC) in Lake Alfred.

Flavor Summit
(Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash)

CREC and the UF Center for Smell and Taste hosted the event that took a deep dive into the science of how flavors are perceived. That’s important intelligence for people in the business of growing and marketing food. Topics included flavor generation and flavor precursors, chemosensory perception and psychophysics, consumer preferences and natural products as sources of novel flavor compounds.

Flavor Summit
Steven Munger

Steven Munger, the director of the Center for Smell and Taste, helped organize the summit. He gave a presentation on a problem that has touched many lives in recent years — loss of smell and taste due to COVID-19. Munger noted this side effect of the virus could potentially last for months or even years. That could have long-term health implications for those suffering due to changes in diet because of altered food preferences. Going forward, the food, beverage and flavor industries will need to consider how smell and taste disorders such as those arising from COVID-19 may influence flavor preferences for many millions of affected individuals, Munger said.

There were several presentations on citrus flavors during the event. Firmenich is the world’s largest privately owned fragrance and taste company. Dinah Diaz, the company’s global citrus marketing director, provided an update on FreshSlice technology. The product lineup is a collection of citrus oils for flavors delivering unique freshness, juiciness and true-to-fruit taste. FreshSlice contains no solvent and is highly concentrated, offering both improved taste and cost advantages. These citrus oils are created using a mild thermal extraction technique, which minimizes objectionable byproducts that can affect the taste profile of many flavors.

Givaudan is another global company involved in fragrance and flavor manufacturing. Stephen Fenimore, a research investigator for the company, gave a presentation on the challenges citrus flavor ingredients face when being used in food and drink components. The talk focused on the chemometric classification and comparison of citrus leaf oils obtained from 20 commercial citrus accessions maintained by the University of California, Riverside Givaudan Citrus Variety Collection. The classification could open new uses for citrus flavors or improve current practices.

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Frank Giles


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