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Flavour range matches diverse tastes

Source:Food Bev Asia

Date Published:11/16/2018 01:11:30 PM

KH Roberts constantly creates new flavour formulations localised to different Asian taste preferences.  

KEEPING pace with changing trends in the global food and beverage market without compromising flavour quality fuels development work at KH Roberts. The Singapore-based flavours and speciality ingredients manufacturer adapts its products to market preferences and requirements, aware that taste varies across markets, countries and regions and that it is only by localising its flavours that the company can fully serve its global customers.

Now on its 50th year in the market, KH Roberts continues to strengthen its flavours portfolio, undertaking extensive research to develop new flavours and solutions.

General Manager – Sales & Group Marketing Tan Pok Kiam credits the company’s continuous investment in its different markets for sustaining its strong presence in Asia. “We started penetrating other markets in Southeast Asia such as Indonesia and Thailand even while we were only starting our business in Singapore. We have established a strong sales and manufacturing network across the region over our five decades in the industry. But more than that, we have built an in-depth knowledge of the market, and this understanding of the taste preferences of the different Asian markets enables us to match market requirements,” he said.

Mr. Tan Pok Kiam, General Manager – Sales & Group Marketing, KH Roberts

Mr. Tan Pok Kiam, General Manager – Sales & Group Marketing, KH Roberts  

In addition to its factory in Singapore, KH Roberts has manufacturing facilities and offices in Thailand, Indonesia, China and Malaysia, and sales representations in Indo-China, including Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, and other parts of Asia. 

“With our broadening presence in different countries, we are prepared to ride the strong growth in Southeast Asia’s F&B market,” Mr. Tan said.

Healthful but flavourful still

The company’s flavour products are available in liquid, powder and paste formats and can be used in consumer products such as beverages, baked goods, confectionery and savouries. The liquid flavours come in water and oil-soluble varieties and are mostly used in bakery, beverage, confectionery, dairy, savoury and even pharmaceutical products. Flavours in paste form, which also deliver colour to the end product, are ideal for bakery and confectionery applications. The powder flavours, which may be blended or encapsulated, are utilised in instant drink mixes, pharmaceutical tablets and powdered seasonings. Products in encapsulated format have a protective matrix of natural gums and modified starches and can be adopted in wet or dry applications.

“Being a flavour house, we are in the business of constantly creating flavours, and this is not by simply buying and combining raw materials together. We create flavour formulas and customise them to the target market,” shared Mr. Tan.

Expecting the trend for sugar reduction, itself spurred by the global trend for healthful products, to persist in the next few years, the company has developed a range of sweet booster flavours that enhance the sweetness in reduced-sugar beverages without losing that great taste, with plans afoot for more such products in the future.

KH Roberts also offers a portfolio of flavours and ingredients based on natural sources and free of artificial flavouring ingredients. The Plaimar Naturals range is ideal for bakery, dairy, beverage and confectionery products and delivers a next-to-nature rich aroma and mouthfeel.

In pursuing healthful flavours, the company sees two main concerns for manufacturers and consumers alike: taste and cost.

In reducing sugar content, for example, Mr. Tan noted that lowering the sugar level can be addressed in the reformulation. “But maintaining or keeping the exact original taste will be a challenge.”

KH Roberts thus tries to strike a balance between reaching a healthful formulation and achieving a taste quality that is acceptable to the customer or target market. Basically, the same approach is used for addressing concerns related to cost. The company notes the importance of clarifying with a customer at the onset of a project the latter’s expectations in terms of costs in relation to the overall flavour profile. “So, for example, a customer wants a fruit juice that costs less to produce as opposed to 100% real fruit juice that is expensive. We can try using only 20% fruit juice and the rest being water, fruit acid and flavour, and we can present some formulas and ingredients. But we tell the customer that the taste may not exactly be the same as a fruit juice with, say, 100% real fruit juice, which will have a much better real fruit taste and mouthfeel,” Mr. Tan added.

He said KH Roberts emphasises clear communications with the customer when doing reformulations. “We ask what the driving factor is behind a reformulation. We’ve realised that sometimes if the main motivation is price or cost, it may not be prudent to pursue the project, especially since we also want to make a healthful and flavourful product for the consumers,” he shared. 

Offering a total flavour solution

Even with its strong reputation as a pioneer food flavour manufacturer in Southeast Asia, KH Roberts undertakes continuous active R&D to create new flavours. Mr. Tan said the company is looking into sustainable and natural ingredients while underscoring affordability and innovation at the same time.

“The food and beverage market is not constant, and if we look at the Asian or Southeast Asian region as a whole, there is no such thing as a singular taste. Being able to cater to the diverse taste preferences in the region has enabled us to remain competitive,” he shared.

The company’s flavour creation teams are active in development projects, studying and identifying crucial components that can guarantee authenticity and quality of flavours. KH Roberts also has application specialist teams that work directly with customers and partners from the industries and related institutions.

“It’s a 360-degree process for us. Because of our direct presence in the different markets in the region, we are able to gather data in terms of new product launches, product trends and other matters, which we are then able to share with our customers,” Mr. Tan said.

KH Roberts also develops applications and refines formulations. “We don’t simply give flavour samples. We share trend information and data, we share ideas and together with manufacturers develop flavour solutions or make refinements to suit local tastes and match market needs while also factoring in cost efficiency and quality,” he said.

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