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Finding Flavour

24 May 2002

The science of identifying what makes a flavour unique, and how to extract and use that flavour, is helping a fledgling company reach lucrative international markets with products that are a distinctive taste of New Zealand.

Maverik Flavours has developed a new generation of technology that uses enzymes to break down fats and proteins in milk and dairy components to unlock specific flavours.

The result is big business - high-margin, added-value products arising from low cost raw materials provided by New Zealand's dairying industry.

The two-year-old company, a spin-off from Fonterra Tech (formerly KiwiTech) has been helped by a number of young food scientists from around the country, who have been awarded Fellowships through Technology New Zealand's TIF scheme to work on processing technologies and new product applications.

Sarina Carson, Maverik's Technical Manager, says New Zealand's expertise in spray drying and dairy powder technology, gained through decades of experience in dairying, provides a sound basis for Maverik's growth.

"We're able to identify, extract and spray dry flavours such as cream, cheese, butter and speciality flavours such as Parmesan and blue cheese. There are a range of uses; for example we can make the cheese flavour in cheese and onion crisps," says Ms Carson.

The company is actively pursuing export markets in the USA and South East Asia, and has notched up solid successes in China, where milk and cream flavours are being used to enliven long life heat-treated milk.

Ms Carson mentored the TIF Fellows during their research projects within the company, and says their capabilities opened up a great opportunity for the company.

"The market potential for natural dairy flavours is massive and having a number of enthusiastic young scientists available to research different aspects has unlocked a lot of doors for us," she says. "As a new company, we can't do everything at once, so having additional 'bolt-on' brains is a significant benefit."

Ms Carson says although Maverik's core direction is 'flavours from dairy products', the technology has potential for use in other areas.

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