Upcycling and the Development of Natural Umami

What is Umami?
Beyond the traditional and familiar four taste types – sweet, sour, bitter, and salty, scientists have more recently – in 2002 – identified differentiated taste receptors in the tongue and officially recognized a fifth taste – umami. The flavor is a traditional oriental cooking ingredient, with umami meaning ‘essence of deliciousness’ in Japan and defined as a savory, meaty deepness. Among the complex umami flavor profile, characteristics are its long-lasting taste, which spreads across the tongue, providing a mouthwatering sensation and full mouthfeel.
Umami is the flavor of monosodium glutamate, the sodium form of glutamic acid, a substance that occurs naturally in foods such as cheese and tomatoes. The taste is also a feature of various familiar natural savory flavors such as mushrooms, fish sauces, soy sauce, ketchup, sea vegetables, anchovies, cured fish and meats, yeast or meat extracts such as Bovril or Marmite, fermented foods such as miso, and even green tea and broccoli.
In addition, an umami flavor profile can also occur naturally as a by-product of protein breakdown, sourced initially from seaweed and now more often produced from cereal and bean protein. It is a favored taste category, commonly included in food products and dish preparation, and growing in popularity.
Simultaneously, an increasing portion of the population is seeking – even demanding – healthier, more conscious, and responsible food, beverage, and ingredient options, with a rising focus on plant-based alternatives. Adding umami to foods can also add deep, natural savory flavors while reducing sodium intake.
Taste and mouthfeel, including natural savory flavors and an umami profile, are key drivers of choice in plant-based alternatives to traditionally animal-based products such as meats and cheeses. However, this is one taste feature often missing from vegan and vegetarian options, a quality more challenging to include in plant-based manufacturing, especially naturally and sustainably.
Upcycling Innovations in Umami Production
In response, innovative ingredient producers such as the Nordic Umami company and Raisio are meeting the challenge head-on, developing upcycled routes to umami flavor production. The idea is to rely on a broad base of ingredients, particularly plant-based side streams, to reduce the estimated 14% of edible food waste1.
Moreover, with global food production accounting for a quarter (26%) of greenhouse-gas emissions2, Nordic Umami is working on developing and accelerating what they call “a closed-loop system with carbon-negative products”. This closed food-value chain uses still-edible products not upcycled or reused by the company’s partners.
An upcycling approach helps reduce the burden on new primary component production, increases sustainability, improves food production to help minimize greenhouse gases, and distributes value more fairly across the food value system.
In addition, the 100% natural initiative to transform “waste to taste” helps make plant-based options more accessible and appealing to vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians, reducetarians, and the wider mainstream population.
Rely on Advanced Biotech for the Natural Savory Flavors of Umami
Adding convincing and compelling savory and umami flavor and aroma profiles means relying on high-quality, natural, plant-based molecules.
In response, Advanced Biotech’s ingredients include savory, meaty, mushroomy, and tomato.
So, reach out to us today to place your umami enhancement order or contact us for more information.

1 https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/raisio-and-nordic-umami-company-to-develop-natural-umami-by-upcycling-by-products.html
2 https://nordicumami.fi/pages/sustainability