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The Proof is in Umami: Success Stories Series – Affordability

February 05, 2024

Umami is one of those flavor components that transforms ordinary meals into extraordinary taste experiences. This basic taste sensation can be described as a savory, satisfying taste that adds depth, balance, and complexity to food. Culinary professionals describe umami as a full tongue, coating sensation that makes your mouth water. In the food industry, the use of Umami delivering ingredients is driven by three essential components: taste, affordability and the need for a “healthier” & “cleaner” label. Check out the stories below where we share real life examples of how IFF Umami solutions have reduced cost while improving taste. 

Creating a Better Bouillon in Africa:
Our first customer story takes place in Africa, where bouillon cubes and powders are found in almost every household in countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, Ghana and the Ivory Coast. In this large, growing market, these products are not just added to water to create broth but added to dishes as sources of spices and flavor. Typically, bouillon products contain salt, MSG (MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE), sugars, flavors, spices, herbs and fats, with MSG delivering the Umami impact that the local consumers crave. However, with the increasing market price of MSG, producers were forced to look for alternative solutions. But changing bouillon recipes comes with its own manufacturing challenges, causing apprehension to make any formulation changes that might impact the manufacturing of the bouillon cube. 

At IFF, our team developed an easy-to-implement, concentrated solution for the MSG, flavors, and spice blends while improving the taste of the product with delivered cost savings. Our technical team helped alleviate manufacturing concerns with our Umami Training programs specially designed to teach customers how to use IFF Umami tools to achieve the best-in-class taste at the lowest cost. In the optimization process, we worked with the ingredients the customer already had available (salt, MSG, fat, etc.) so no additional purchasing efforts or costs were needed. And finally, once the IFF optimized recipe product was approved, we supported the integration of the IFF concentrated solution into manufacturing to ensure the cubing process was efficient – as this was an initial customer concern with reformulation. Once implemented, we helped to reduce more than 40% of MSG used in the bouillon cube recipe, improving the current taste of the product and delivering a 30% overall cost savings from the original recipe.

Understanding Umami In Southeast Asia for Improved Noodles:
Umami is an essential part of Asian cuisine. But it is important to realize that in many markets like in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines, it is perceived and preferred very differently by consumers. In short, people from different places have different preferences for Umami, even when they are from the same region of the world. So, when asked to achieve a similar Umami taste and impact to an instant noodle product sold throughout the whole region while reducing cost due to the increasing price of MSG and Ribotides, it presented challenges. This is where IFF Umami expertise came in. 

Our consumer studies have resulted in a deep understanding of what part of the Umami taste, and its’ releases, is important to drive taste preferences of culinary food products in each of these different Southeastern countries. Together with our Taste Creation team, our sensory science team has also developed a predictive tool, the Umami Taste Block Model, which helped predict the optimal combination of Umami tools required for specific Umami taste expectations of consumers in different countries. Our team worked hand-in-hand with the customer to deliver consumer preferred chicken, beef and pork profiles on top of the expected Umami impact using our extended taste ingredient toolkit. These formulation improvements helped our customer not only remain competitive in their markets, but they saved over 6 million dollars on recipe costs with this reformulation. Not only meeting but exceeding their goals for cost-savings and taste improvements.

At IFF, we work with you to implement Umami taste solutions, consider other flavor profiles and, if desired, provide one single solution to reduce complexity and cost, increase efficiency and improve taste. From recipe creation to factory support, we are your partner every step of the way. Our umami experts are here to help take your culinary creations to the next level. Click here to learn more about all of our Umami capabilities.