Plant-based meat alternatives continue to gain popularity as more consumers seek to diversify the sources of protein in their diets. However, dissatisfaction with taste is frequently a barrier for consumer acceptance, particularly with regards to missing the savory aspect of real meat. Umami, the fifth basic taste, is the savory deliciousness central to bringing forward a meaty flavor. And when it comes to umami, it's all about glutamates.
The 5th Taste: Umami
Umami is the taste of the amino acid, glutamate. Glutamate is one of the most prevalent amino acids in nature, naturally present in a variety of foods such as tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms. It is inherent to almost all savory food, not only imparting umami but also balance, roundness and improved mouthfeel. In plant-based proteins, umami, through the addition of glutamates, adds the satisfying savory, full-bodied flavor to achieve a meat-like taste. At Ajinomoto, we are the world's leading experts in glutamates since it was discovered that glutamate imparts umami taste in 1908. This discovery led to the launch of the world's first umami seasoning, monosodium glutamate (MSG), in 1909. Glutamate is critical for delivering desirable meaty characteristics in the plant-based segment and understanding this fascinating savory characteristic will lead to the successful launch of great-tasting plant-based brands.
Unlocking Full-Bodied Flavor with Glutamates
At Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. we manufacture our line of glutamate ingredients domestically with the highest quality, plant-derived raw materials. MSG is often known as the purest form of umami, but it is not the only option for delivering on savory taste. Non-sodium glutamates, such as monoammonium glutamate (MAG) and monopotassium glutamate (MPG), are available and bring slightly unique characteristics to certain foods. MPG, in particular, performs very well in plant-based systems because it delivers a slight metallic note like what is perceived in animal meat while delivering exceptional levels of umami for overall flavor enhancement and roundness.
We also offer L-glutamic acid, which can be labeled as a natural flavor. In addition to delivering umami, L-glutamic acid can add a desirable, small acidic bite to food systems including plant-based products, while delivering absolutely no sodium. The acid character can work well in product categories that are naturally more acidic, such as condiments and dressings. Our other ingredients, such as yeast extracts and fermented rice products, are also glutamate-containing ingredients that can be used to deliver umami in a wide range of both dry and liquid applications.
Solutions & Ingredients For You
The culinary and food science experts on our Solutions & Ingredients team understand the science of glutamates and how and where they can be used to enhance savory flavors. Trust our team to find the best food ingredient solution for your specific application.
Contact us to take advantage of the power of umami to drive deliciousness of your plant-based products.