engage your senses

Umami, the ‘fifth taste’ on everybody’s lips

The man who discovered monosodium glutamate (MSG), chemist Kikunae Ikeda, coined its distinctive flavour as ‘Umami’, a colloquial Japanese word meaning ‘delicious taste’. First used by Japanese housewives in 1909 as a substitute for meat stock, MSG produces a succulence and depth of flavour in cooking. Today, Givaudan is able to replicate this succulence without using MSG.


The fifth taste

Although an unfamiliar term, the western kitchen is very familiar with the taste sensations of umami-rich foods. Originally, umami was used to describe the taste effect of monosodium glutamate (MSG), contained in very common western foods such as cheddar cheese, Parma ham, onion, chicken, tuna...it is even present in mothers' milk. Umami is now officially known as the 'fifth taste' along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

Despite the fact that MSG is naturally occurring, consumers often feel that the term ‘monosodium glutamate’ describes something unnatural. With a need and demand to create healthy products with clean labels that overcome this issue, food companies turn to Givaudan to deliver great tasting products with plenty of umami.

    By combining a scientific understanding of umami, together with our culinary expertise and knowledge of taste enhancement in food, Givaudan has developed TasteSolutions® Umami. Through this programme we create flavours that impart the desirable umami qualities to foods, thanks to a portfolio of proprietary ingredients that has been assembled following CulinaryTreks and TasteTreks. These journeys of discovery have captured long-established cooking traditions that use umami to create delicious taste profiles.

    Keeping labels clean

    Umami itself may be an uncommon concept, but almost everyone, every day encounters it in the foods they enjoy. TasteSolutions® Umami is applicable to food types across the entire savoury category, and thanks to its ability to build great-tasting products, consumers can enjoy that same ‘delicious taste’ but without MSG.