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Journey to Umami and beyond in a taste exploration

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

Tastes in food are changing at pace. However, whatever you choose to put on your plate or eat on the go, one thing is a constant: the need for umami. We all know that whatever flavour transformation manufacturers offer us when substituting sugar, sodium, or MSG we still need the enhancement and balance of flavour that is characteristic of umami. However, that’s not all we search for.

Have you heard of Kokumi?

For many Kokumi may well be something new. However, it has been studied by scientists for many years, decades in fact. It is something that isn’t a taste exactly but more of a vehicle that assists with the depth of flavour we expect to experience on our palettes. After all, we crave that sensation or ‘mouthfeel’ when we taste anything. Think of your favourites and what sensations they engender as you taste. That satisfaction from a hearty meat-based meal needs to be replicated in some form or another in all new plant-based variations. This is where Kokumi comes in.

Is your vegan meal really healthy?

Many plant-based meals may have the association of health but when consumers read the label they may be in for a shock when they see the amount of salt and sugar present. It is a complex situation because many conventional meat-based products traditionally carried high levels of sodium. Therefore, isn’t it time to look for alternatives if we are in the position to reformulate?

Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition is the North American subsidiary of Ajinomoto Co. Inc. (Global Corporate Office) in Japan. It is a global leader in the research, development, manufacturing, and sale of the highest quality amino acid-based products and food solutions. It is not a new kid on the block, however, as it actually responsible for discovering umami in 1908. Its core mo. is to link science to taste.

Texture’s role in our consumption experience should never be discounted

Director of Ingredient Innovation, Joe Formanek, PhD. Is keen to point out that taste is just one aspect and the questions around taste and flavour are not solved without texture. Texture is a very significant aspect with respect to enjoyment. Formanek is

keen to point out that texture should not be overlooked in the race for taste. He says that “Texture’s role in our consumption experience should never be discounted. When texture is poorly executed, consumers won’t likely return to that item for repeat purchase.”

Who wants to eat gums and gels in their food?

Consumers will understand how the excitement of buying a new product can quickly pall when texture falls short of their expectations. A 2021 Consumer Research Survey carried out by Edelman Data & Intelligence highlighted that 22% of plant-based meat-substitute customers were unhappy about texture. This is high when taste elicited a 24% concern level, sodium 31%. This demonstrates that R&D departments should not disregard texture. There is obviously a lot of work still to be done as historically egg whites, gums, gels and

hydrocolloids have been the heavy lifters when it comes to texture enhancement. These are all off limits in plant-based products. Also, with the move towards clean labelling none of these ingredients are attractive to contemporary consumers. Some organizations have termed these ingredients as not being ‘label friendly’.

These are considerable challenges for food and ingredients companies

They demand a high level of research and development and highly skilled staff. Meyrick Consulting is doing a lot of work with clean label companies, designers, and suppliers. In addition, we collaborate with bio tech and plant-based companies and are proud to assist in the process of placing high level appointments that will know will drive profound change within the industry and beyond.

If you have key positions, you would like to fill, please do chat with us about how we might help you. We’d love to know more about your challenges and requirements.

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