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Fall Regional IFT Event Full of Flavors

On the evening of Sept. 23, I attended my first IFT Aksarben Section (IFT-A) fall meeting at a local restaurant located here in Omaha, Neb. The event was a great opportunity to socialize and network with others in the food industry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and companies like ConAgra Foods, International Spices and DuPont Nutrition and Health.

In addition to networking at the event, IFT-A sponsored a guest speaker from FONA International (FONA). FONA delivered a presentation from their Flavor University®, “Keeping Up with What’s Next,” and engaged the audience in an interactive discussion and sampling of emerging flavor trends.

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As part of their presentation, FONA highlighted the new wave of exotic fruits like Huckleberry, which is an up and coming fruit based on FONA’s Flavor Radar®—a flavor-mapping methodology— with a mildly sweet, astringent flavor and is commonly used in jams, preserves and baked goods. Following the new wave of exotic fruits, FONA presented new ingredients and provided samples for the audience to taste, smell and touch as each new ingredient was highlighted onscreen.

One ingredient that stood out to me in the presentation was cupuaçu (pronounced koo-poo-ah-soo). Many of us at the table tasted a flavor profile similar to chocolate. But what caught my attention was how FONA referred to the ingredient as a pharmacy in a fruit. Cupuaçu, from the rain forests in Brazil, provides antioxidants and other benefits to the digestive system. In addition, the theobromides in cupuaçu act like caffeine to provide energy and alertness. Some of its traditional applications include desserts, ice cream, chocolates and beverages like milk and juice.

Other ingredients we sampled were baobab, cherimoya, feijoa, jackfruit, maqui berry and persimmon. FONA has all of these ingredients, including cupuaçu, on their watch list as they see how their uses will be expanded in the future. One thing FONA pointed out was that the availability of some of the ingredients they presented will become a factor as to how quickly they enter the market in the U.S.

FONA did a great job presenting the emerging flavor trends they’re seeing; it will be interesting to watch what new products and applications will be introduced or reformulated with these exotic flavors.

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