Filed in March 2012, the patent was published internationally in March 2013, but has escaped the glare of mainstream media – PepsiCo says the invention could be applied to RTD beverages, concentrates, syrups, shelf-stable and chilled drinks, carbonates and non-carbonates.
Explaining the basis for its ‘aroma delivery system’ – which uses one or more aroma compounds encapsulated in gelatine capsules that are broken when a drinks container is opened – inventors Naijie Zhang and Peter Given note the importance of smell to consumers.
‘Fresh aromas’ are expected
“Consumers evaluate many products by the aroma emitted from the product or the container in which the product is made available…Edible products, such as juices and coffee, are expected to have a fresh aroma that replicates or evokes memory of the expected flavour of the product,” they write.
Zhang and Given add: “Research has shown that aromas can in some instances have substantial impact on consumer perception of the taste of a beverage or other food, trigger a favourable emotional response, elicit a favourite memory, and/or otherwise improve overall product performance.”
Brands want consumers to smell products, Zhang and Given say, but they warns that aromas are often lacking because the holes that drinks come out of are too small, or are covered with protective safety films.
“Additionally, it is often difficult to deliver adequate aroma to a headspace of a container that comes from the beverage itself, and not from the container,” the pair write.
‘Scratch and sniff’ strips or ‘overwraps’ on the outside of packaging that release aromas are one solution to this problem, Zhang and Given add, but affect packaging appearance once used, while there is a risk of consumers scepticism regarding whether a given aroma belongs to the product.
Essential oils, fruit essences, perfumes…
Step forward this invention! Zhang and Given explain that aromas are encapsulated in gelatine capsules (10-50 microns in size) with a secondary protective coating to guard against moisture and oxygen ingress.
When one opens a bottle, say, capsules at the interface of bottle and cap – are ruptured and the aroma material (usually a volatile compound, according to the application) is released.
PepsiCo’s patent rehearses numerous methods of forming aroma delivery systems, using gelatin capsules in various permutations.
Secondary protective layers could include a polysaccharide, synthetic polymer, natural wax, natural biopolymer, natural film former or combinations thereof – and different aroma compounds.
Possible aromas include essential oils, fruit essences, fruit aromas, perfumes and combinations thereof, while closures can comprises threaded caps, slide-in closures, snap-on or slide-on caps.
PepsiCo patent WO 2013/032631A1 is available to read here.