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Opportunities in Umami ;Exploring the potential of the fifth taste

• Umami can be a game-changer in the development of formulations for sodium reduction. A large range of umami flavors can be used to successfully reduce salt or sodium in a food or drink product. For example, according to the Glutamate Association, MSG can reduce the amount of sodium in a recipe by up to 40%, while still maintaining the desired flavor.

• Umami-generating or -enhancing ingredients, such as yeast extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, and soy sauce, can be used in food and drink manufacturing to create vegetarian or vegan products or meals that have enough savory flavor to perform as suitable meat substitutes.

• Umami may have a role to play in improving the health of consumers above and beyond its potential role in sodium reduction. Umami's effects on appetite development, digestion, and satiety are being investigated, and may be important in future food design.


The report presents new and innovative ways of using the umami concept for salt reduction, vegetarian/vegan products, and clean label/"natural" food items. The report concludes with the potential for umami to create healthy foods, innovations in taste research and sensory evaluation, and what might be the future impact of related concepts such as kokumi on the food and drink industry.

Reasons to buy

• Understand what umami is and what potential it has to add value to new food and drink products.

• Discover which ingredients can deliver the umami sensation and how these are being used in new products in a range of sectors.

• Learn how umami can help to create tasty and satisfying reduced sodium, "natural," and/or vegetarian or vegan foods.

• Learn about consumer reaction to MSG and umami, and how this varies by demographic.

• Discover future opportunities linked to the umami concept; such as kokumi.

Companies mentioned



Marks & Spencer


Nikken Foods

Table of Contents

About the author


Executive summary

Trends in umami ingredients

Innovating with the umami concept

Differentiating and creating added value

Future opportunities

Chapter 1 Introduction


What is umami?

Umami is trending

Consumer and media perceptions of umami and MSG

About this report

Chapter 2 Trends in umami ingredients



MSG and related flavor enhancers

MSG – a core umami ingredient

Perception of MSG

Other umami-generating ingredients

Yeast extracts and hydrolyzed proteins: proprietary and "natural" blends

Yeast extracts

Hydrolyzed proteins

Plants, foods, and "natural process" sources of umami

Foods high in umami compounds

Soy sauce

Umami taste using local ingredients

Newer sources and processes

Chapter 3 Innovating with the umami concept



Innovating and marketing with umami

A market gap to be filled

Iconic and unique

Umami is linked with health and novelty

Savory as a unique proposition

Hot and savory drinks

Sweet and savory

Unexpected savoriness

Reformulation/repositioning with umami

Seaweed – an umami ingredient

Chapter 4 Differentiating and creating added value



Salt reduction

Umami for successful salt reduction

Salt replacement with seaweed

Sodium reduction in seasonings


Strong and satisfying flavors

Clean label/natural

Natural umami ingredients

Chapter 5 Future opportunities



Umami and health

Innovations from flavor and taste research

Beyond umami





List of Tables

Table 1: New food and drink products with basic taste flavors, 2012-14

Table 2: Umami ingredients in reduced salt/sodium* food and drinks, 2013-14

Table 3: Top 10 claims/tags in new food and drinks, 2012-14

List of Figures

Figure 1: Umami search topic: relative level of interest worldwide, January 2005 to January 2015

Figure 2: An Umami Burger

Figure 3: Recently published cookery/beverage books with an umami theme

Figure 4: Consumer perception (global) of MSG on health, 2015

Figure 5: Sentiments in tweets containing #umami or #monosodiumglutamate

Figure 6: #umami tweets and trendy new ingredients/recipes

Figure 7: A selection of new products from around the world containing MSG

Figure 8: The effect of age and gender on negative perception of MSG on health, 2015

Figure 9: How country of residence affects negative perceptions of MSG on health, 2015

Figure 10: Consumer consumption intention for MSG (global average), 2013

Figure 11: New products containing yeast extract and tagged as "no MSG"

Figure 12: New US products featuring soy sauce

Figure 13: Mara Seaweed dulse

Figure 14: Umami cooking pastes and marinades available in the UK

Figure 15: Taste #5 Umami Collection

Figure 16: The Mushroom Garden umami seasoning

Figure 17: Salt of The Earth umami salt products

Figure 18: Mixing sweet and savory in popcorn

Figure 19: Savory yogurt and cottage cheese products

Figure 20: Seaweed snacks recently launched in the US

Figure 21: Global: consumer perception of salt/sodium on health, 2015

Figure 22: New reduced salt/sodium seasonings containing umami ingredients

Figure 23: Global variation in daily diet, 2014

Figure 24: Vegan meat substitutes with umami-enhancing ingredients

Figure 25: New foods containing parmesan cheese and featuring a "natural" claim/tag

Figure 26: Doenjang (Korean soybean paste)


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