Athol Bruce, area sales manager, of Unifine Food and Bake Ingredients:

Flavours are used for several reasons, such as to replace naturally available raw materials, to mask products and maybe to enhance or cover up a reaction that has happened in the baking process. They are also used to add innovative new flavours to ranges and to standardise the end product in taste. For instance, with fruit fillings, real fruit can dramatically vary in taste.

Flavour also helps create perception, such as health. A fruity flavour will appear to be more healthy to a consumer than a rich chocolate, toffee flavour. More retailers are looking to reduce sugar, fat and salt, which subsequently have an effect on the feel and texture of the product. Flavours can help to overcome such problems. Cake butter for instance has a distinct flavour, so if removed the flavour is removed, but flavours can compensate for this.

Healthy can still be tasty. Golden syrup is one that we have produced recently. People are reducing the amount of sugar they put into flap-jacks, sponge puddings and cake mixes, but they still want the flavour. The same has been done with products such as maple syrup, butter, caramel, toffee and bun spice, which is usually made with oil.

Trends also show that flavours are being used to add value to bakery products. If you take a standard cookie and add a walnut flavour, it gives it a more premium image.

l Each month, British Baker will be asking a leading industry figure to focus on the uses of different ingredients in baking