Every time someone tries a SVRY product and asks:
"I like the spice notes, what are those?"
(Fez blend on yogurt with a bit of olive oil)
It hurts a little...
...to give away your hard work and secrets, but I tell them exactly what is in there. For example, in the Fez Savoury Granola and Topper mix, the aroma mostly comes from great quality freeze dried or dried basil, parsley, cinnamon, cumin and less so oregano and coriander.
Actually, you can also just read that on the back of pack labeling or product webpage. You won't find generic ingredient groupings like 'seasoning' or 'herbs and spices' on our savoury granola labels. Why?
Almost everyone has a dietary restriction. Many are not to the top 10 allergens common.
As a producer, we could get away with hiding most common seasoning ingredients other than salt and the top 10 allergens in terms like 'seasoning' and 'herbs and spices'. This lets food producers protect their secret recipes from other would be copy-cats. I understand and somewhat support that reasoning, but I also know consumers have a multitude of dietary restrictions that go beyond just 10 allergens. I've known people strictly avoiding pink peppercorns for example due to a very serious adverse reaction.
Even for consumers that have no restrictions, the flow of a 100% transparent label is just more satisfying to read. So many product's ingredient listings look like this to the consumer:
Understand, Understand, Understand, BLACK BOX, BLACK BOX
This type of ingredient list can work for the brand as it focuses the attention of most consumers on the ingredients they do understand rather than the mysterious 'flavours' or 'spices' they can't.
No Flavour Preparations
One of the most frustrating black box ingredients for consumers is seeing the term 'flavours', whether it be artificial, natural or the mysterious unlabelled 'flavour'. Food processors use them because they work amazingly to pack a ton of flavour in a small, consistent package. Flavours are usually provided as 'flavour preparations' from specialty business to business suppliers called flavour houses. Flavour houses tend to keep information very tight, even to their paying customers (brands who make consumers food). Curious or frustrated consumers even reach out to brands sometimes to ask what exactly is contained in these flavours. Here is the thing.
Most of the time, the brand doesn't know exactly what is in a flavour either.
Simple because flavour houses are locked in tight competition and would sometimes rather lose a customer then give away their exact formula.
So rather than use "Natural Flavour" to achieve the herb-y, mediterranian flavour profile in Fez blend, I worked hard getting the spices right. One thing about real spices is that they vary slightly from batch to batch, but we will have to live with that.
While Natural flavours are usually more well accepted by customers, they've also got a bad rap recently with some health bloggers accusing brands of using castoreum (so called beaver butt). Having been in the industry for a while, I can say with confidence people are not using castoreum (imagine the cost of beaver glands vs. extracts from common tropical trees)...BUTT...a funny...hehe...
BUT Natural flavours are not 100% natural tree or plant extracts. They are preparations which can contain, to quote the regulations:
"sweetening agent, food colour, Class II preservative, thaumatin, Class IV preservative or emulsifying agent"
So, you don't need to know what a Class II preservative is to understand that there are a few things hiding behind 'Natural Flavours' on ingredients list.
We're banking on transparency being more valuable to our consumers than exotic flavours we can't make in the kitchen.
As for giving away all of our secret herbs and spices? You still have to guess how much :). Well I'll probably tell you if you ask, but nobody has gone that far yet.
(Fez blend nutritional info and ingredients)