Artificial and Natural Flavorings - Know the Differences

February 10, 2023

Flavorings are essential components of food and beverage products, and they can be divided into two broad categories: natural and artificial.

Understanding the difference between these two types of flavorings is important for consumers who are concerned about the ingredients in their food and the impact they have.

Natural Flavorings

Natural flavorings are derived from plant, animal, or microbial sources, and they are intended to impart flavor to food and beverage products in a manner that is similar to the original source. The term "natural flavor" is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which defines it as the "essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional."

Below are some commonly used descriptors for Natural flavors

  • Natural or FTNF (From the Named Fruit) flavorings only contain ingredients from the flavor source. This may also be referred to as single-source or true-to-fruit.
  • Natural type flavorings are made with ingredients from natural sources and are formulated to mimic the taste of that source. For example, a natural-type cherry flavor might be made with natural source ingredients but is intended to taste like cherries.
  • Natural WONF (With Other Natural Flavors) flavorings are intended to replicate the taste of a specific food or beverage product. For example, a natural WONF cola flavor might contain a mixture of ingredients that are formulated to taste like cola.

Artificial Flavorings

Artificial flavorings, on the other hand, are made entirely from synthetic ingredients and are not derived from any natural source. They are designed to impart flavor to food and beverage products in a manner that is not found in nature. Artificial flavorings are often used because they are more cost-effective and stable than natural flavorings, and they can be used to create unique and interesting flavor combinations. However, some consumers are concerned about the potential health risks associated with artificial ingredients, and they may avoid products that contain artificial flavorings.

Natural and Artificial Flavorings

In addition, there are also "natural and artificial flavorings” combined. These flavorings are exactly as you might expect from the name, a combination of natural and artificial ingredients. They are designed to provide the best of both worlds. For example, a product with "natural and artificial flavorings" might contain a natural vanilla extract, but also include artificial ingredients to enhance the flavor. This type of flavoring can be a desirable choice for consumers who want to enjoy the benefits of natural ingredients but also want the stability and consistency of artificial ingredients.

Selecting the right one to use

When it comes to choosing between natural and artificial flavors, there are several factors to consider. Natural flavors are derived from plants, animals, and other natural sources, while artificial flavors are created in a laboratory. Natural flavors have been around far longer than artificial flavors and tend to be more complex in taste. Natural flavors are also generally healthier than artificial flavors, as they are free from additives and preservatives. On the other hand, artificial flavors are often cheaper and more easily replicated than natural flavors. Artificial flavors also allow for more consistent tastes and can be used to create unique flavor combinations.

Ultimately, the decision of which to choose will depend on your preferences and the particular recipe or product you are making. Natural flavors are typically more expensive and can be harder to find, while artificial flavors are more widely available and often cheaper. If you are looking for something with a more intense, complex flavor, natural flavors may be the best option. However, if you are looking for something with a more consistent flavor profile, artificial flavors may be the way to go.


In conclusion, natural, natural type, natural WONF, artificial, and natural and artificial flavorings are all important components of the food and beverage industry. Understanding the difference between these types of flavorings can help consumers make informed decisions about the products they consume and can also help manufacturers make decisions about the ingredients they use in their products. Whether you prefer natural, natural type, natural WONF, artificial, or natural and artificial flavorings, it is important to be aware of what you are consuming and the impact it has on your health and the environment.

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