Crafting Natural basil flavor from the lab to your plate


Responding to consumers' calls for greater transparency and simplicity in food ingredients, Galactic has stepped up with its natural basil flavor.

But do you know the journey from initial concept up to a product present on supermarket shelves?

Today, we get an exclusive look behind the scenes with Maria Montalva, Galactic's NPD Process and Product Manager. She will guide us through the strategic and research-driven path taken to transform an innovative concept into a culinary staple in your food products.

What inspired Galactic to develop a natural basil flavor product?

The world is asking for more clean label solutions; people are paying more attention to what they are eating, what’s inside their food, especially because consumers want to avoid artificial ingredients. They want to see ingredients that are familiar to them, and that is where our interest in basil flavor products started. We knew that in the market there was already a trend to “clean” the labels, so we saw that with our knowledge in fermentation, we could have an opportunity here to develop a natural ingredient.

Can you describe the R&D process that goes into creating a natural basil flavor?

This is a work where different departments are involved. We have on one side, the market study done by sales & marketing together, and then we need to check the technical feasibility between R&D and production: it’s an all-together development. But specifically for R&D, they need to do the preliminary test for the product. Is it stable? Which raw materials do we need? How will we do the upscaling, etc.?

At Galactic, we have 3 different areas for R&D: the NPD department for all new developments, the fermentation team, and the application team. For this development, of course, we needed to study and perform some tests to define the best way to optimize the extraction of the basil leaves. Once the process was validated by the NPD & fermentation team, we started to scale up and have the first pilot tests in the plant. While we were testing the process, we had some laboratory samples for the application team to test the ingredients in different food applications; the first tests we did were for meat alternatives and plant-based meals. Thanks to all the testing and trials performed, we finally were able to launch our basil extract, ensuring the best quality possible.

What are the main advantages of using this basil flavor and not another one?

Our natural basil flavor is of outstanding quality; it gives a pleasant round flavor in the final food application while maintaining freshness during the entire shelf-life. The ingredient was developed for a specific food application, but in reality, it can be applied in many different food matrixes. I think that is where the fun starts for the application team: when we can find unexpected results. We always try to keep our minds open to any possibilities because that is what innovation is.

What are the primary applications of our natural basil flavor in the Food & Beverage industry? And are there any innovative uses of our basil flavor that food producers have found particularly beneficial?

I would say the main applications are in plant-based products; it’s where we see the most requests to use less “artificial” ingredients and switch to natural ones. It’s where the consumers are also more attentive to the ingredients list, especially the ones who follow a specific diet, like vegans or vegetarians.

We have also tested our basil flavor in ready meals applications, like Pasta Carbonara as well as in meat and poultry, for food producers, with really excellent flavor creation. So, we never close the doors to testing new and diverse food products.

As a product manager, what do you find most rewarding about working on natural basil flavor and similar products?

Personally, I started to pay attention to the labels of the products when I started my career at university, being able to understand the process of manufacturing. I found thinking about the reason behind every ingredient on the ingredients list of foods displayed in the stores super interesting. So being able to work with natural ingredients aligns perfectly with my interests. The possibility to offer a natural alternative to replace the sometimes-long list of ingredients is worth trying; getting back to the past, you might say, using what we can find in nature in a sustainable way is what makes me feel accomplished.

If you'd like to find out more or have any questions about our natural basil flavor or other products, our team of experts is ready to get involved. Contact the Galactic specialists today and join us at the forefront of the clean label movement.