Inspiration for Innovation – Exploring the 16th Annual American Food Innovate Summit

ATLANTA, GA—This past March 26-27th, food and beverage industry innovators, experts, and professionals gathered in Atlanta, GA, for the 16th annual American Food Innovate Summit. With key speakers from innovation service providers and some of the largest CPG companies, attendees discussed the newest technologies, trends and developments from across the industry.

This event presented a unique opportunity for innovators to come together and share their successes and struggles in how to bring new innovations to market, successfully.

Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong Global VP of R&D

Dr. Bernd Koehler, Edlong’s Global VP of R&D

Connect with Dr. Bernd on LinkedIn!

Edlong was represented at this year’s Innovate Summit by Global VP of R&D, Dr. Bernd Koehler, who spoke about   “How to Overcome Taste Challenges in Plant-based Alternatives.“

“Every endeavor to innovate is going to bring its own unique set of technical challenges, and plant-based alternatives are no exception,” says Dr. Koehler.


He continues, “With the plant-based space remaining a prime focus for innovation moving forward, developers must have solutions for potential flavor issues when they need them most. As the only flavor-house in attendance, we found it incredibly important to share our experiential know-how and perspectives on how to best approach these challenges.”

In the presentation, Dr. Koehler discussed the science behind two of the most common issues plant-based developers struggle with: off-notes and flavor-protein interactions.

He notes that both of these struggles arise from the chemical interactions between flavor molecules and the formulation of a product’s base, negatively impacting consumer reception of a product.

Dr. Koehler adds, “Taste remains the main driver of liking, and getting it right is essential for the success and longevity of this category. Luckily, we aren’t defenseless against inherent issues related to some product bases.”

Focusing on proven solutions, he delved into three steps Edlong recommends to help developers overcome even the toughest plant-based formulation challenges and create better-tasting products.

These steps included:

  • Optimizing your list
  • Choosing the Right Characterizing Flavor
  • Leveraging New Technologies

“One of the first things product developers always need to do is optimize the base of their product. They can achieve this by adjusting basic tastes, specifically saltiness and sweetness, fat content, and viscosity to counteract unwanted flavors. Developers may also need to address the impact of protein quality and degree of denaturation by evaluating alternative ingredients in a base,” explains Dr. Koehler.


Turning to characterizing flavors, he adds, “Sometimes the best way to counter off-notes is to choose flavors that can complement and work with the base instead of trying to counteract it. For example, when the product base tastes a little bitter due to plant protein being part of the formulation, product developers could perhaps consider driving the flavor towards a profile that naturally contains bitterness as a characterizing component such as dark chocolate, coffee, or mocha.”   

Another approach could be leveraging odor-induced taste enhancement (OITE), or in other words utilizing aromas that consumers typically associate with sweet or salty, product developers can boost the perception of those basic tastes.”

“Lastly, it was necessary to highlight the importance of leveraging cutting-edge technologies. These could range from novel ingredients, culture and enzyme-based bioconversions, controlled release, flavor encapsulation, and of course masking solutions.”

Dr. Koehler stressed how these points fit into the underlying themes of this year’s conference.


“This summit really emphasized the need for companies to ensure that the aims of their innovation pipelines are aligned with their overall strategy. Even then it’s necessary to be able to identify the trends and capitalize on them by providing real solutions. Moving at the speed of innovation requires iteration and collaboration. Developers need partners that can understand their problems and have the agility to answer them quickly. That’s something we at Edlong know a lot about and really hoped to add to the conversation here.”

Find out more about how Edlong can help you innovate in your next plant-based project.

Click here to learn more about this event and its sponsors

About Edlong Flavor Solutions
Edlong has the world’s largest portfolio of authentic dairy and dairy-free flavors that improve classic taste profiles for Cheese, Butter, Sweet Dairy, Cream, and Milk. Working closely with our customers, Edlong can apply the right building blocks to create tastes that uniquely differentiate a brand. At Edlong, we believe the taste of dairy can be innovative, inspiring, a sales booster, and even a game changer. That is why Edlong believes in Everything Dairy Can Be. 

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