By Upasana R. Abbott, R&D Scientist, NOW Foods
Liquid Supplements have become increasingly popular in last several years. Liquid supplements are easy to swallow. However, they present formulation challenges for formulators and manufacturers – the challenges of transforming them from bitter and unpleasant tasting mixtures to dietary supplements that are flavorful and are liked by consumers. At NOW foods we spend considerable time and effort to develop liquid supplements that have great taste. Some examples are our Liquid CoQ10 orange, Liquid Multi (vitamin-mineral) berry and orange, Liquid Cal-Mag lemon and blueberry, Liquid L-Carnitine tropical and citrus, Liquid Glucosamine-Chondroitin citrus, Ultra B12 natural and Mangoni antioxidant cocktail.
The major challenge in making a flavorful supplement is covering the typical “off flavors” associated with certain vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. Every supplement contains active ingredients that are considered to be its base. The taste of this base typically varies from slightly unacceptable to an awful tasting combination. We test several natural ingredients, both alone and in various combinations, to develop the most effective way to mask the bad taste of this base.
This development process incorporates formulator experience, information from existing formulas, food flavoring literature, supplier information, and odor and taste tests. We experiment with our exhaustive inventory of all-natural liquid and powder flavors. These flavors are carefully selected from many flavor suppliers and are exclusively natural, with all ingredients and allergens disclosed. We use both individual and combinations of flavors to achieve the best possible flavor profile. Every supplement is created uniquely, in terms of flavor combinations and potencies. We are careful to use only natural flavors.
The last phase of the development involves a series of sensory evaluations; the taste tests. As the supplement formula approaches an acceptable flavor level, it is presented for internal evaluation. The samples are evaluated by experienced employees for taste and other sensory parameters.
The feedback from these tests results in formula revisions and modifications. Thus continues the development of flavored liquid supplements until we reach nearly perfect scores for the test. The final approval typically involves a blind taste test by a trained panel of 10 judges. The blind test includes new formulation in comparison with competitive products from the market. If the new formulation achieves the highest rating, it is considered ready to be launched and if not, the development process continues. We understand that taste is very important for liquid supplements and we work hard to ensure that our customers will like them.