Vegan, low-sodium, clean label, upcycled and low carbon: Next-gen umami bomb ticks all the boxes
After three intensive years in development, Sensient has launched Nacre, a sustainable extract naturally produced from an upcycled raw ingredient with minimal processing, which means it has a low carbon impact. Extracted from a plant protein, Nacre also qualifies for clean, low-sodium and vegan labelling.
Scientists identified umami taste receptors on the human tongue in 2002, however, it was first identified by Japanese scientist Dr Kikunae Ikeda in 1908. While enjoying a bowl of kelp broth called kombu dashi, he noticed the savoury flavour was distinct from the four basic tastes of sweet, sour, bitter and salty. He named this fifth taste ‘umami’, which literally means ‘essence of deliciousness’ in Japanese.
But that’s not all.
The umami boost also acts as a taste enhancement and saltiness modulator and comes in with a very attractive price point for manufacturers.
“At Sensient, we pride ourselves on delivering natural ingredients to provide deliciousness in any food application,” said Michel Salles, GM of Sensient Flavors & Extracts Europe.
Compared with similar flavour bombs currently available on the market, Nacre is neutral in taste. As any product developer worth his salt knows, this allows the product’s key flavour to shine without smudging it into oblivion.
“Nacre is neutral in taste compared to other ingredients typically used for umami and savoury flavourings, which is a major benefit for multiple reasons,” said Salles.
“Nacre’s neutrality means that it enhances product taste rather than altering it, keeping product flavours clean and simple, with a pleasant, juicy mouthfeel.
“Nacre also provides food producers with a cost efficient alternative to increasingly expensive yeast extracts as well as reliability of supply courtesy of its production in region.”
Sensient also claims the solution can reduce salt usage in snacks and bread products, among other applications. The standard dosage of Nacre is less than 1%; it’s soluble in water, also dispersible in an oil/fat-based matrix; or can be used in a powder format within a snack seasoning formulation.
Added Jeremy Marichez, innovation manager at Sensient Flavors Extracts Europe, “The Nacre portfolio remains a work in progress as Sensient continues to focus on developing new formats, new taste profiles with different raw materials and additional equipment.”
In the meantime, Nacre is designed to boost savoury applications; however, it can be used to heighten the taste profile of something sweet. Adding a hint of salt to cake recipes, for example, while not discernible, perks up the depth and complexity of other flavours and also provides a balance to the sweetness.
“Through the umami boosting property, it enhances the overall taste baseline of a product and makes it last longer. Nacre works in synergy with the product’s existing flavour profile,” said Marichez, adding Nacre will also cover any off-notes or undesired tastes, especially in meat-alternative offerings.
Moreover, the transparently sourced vegetable protein-derived umami flavour solution has been a low carbon impact.
“Nacre is a sustainable alternative, extracted from vegetable protein by-products and manufactured through a low energy-consuming process. It contains no additives and no carrier,” said Marichez.
Nacre is currently available in Europe but can be used in other countries by adapting labelling to local regulatory requirements.
Sensient Savory Flavors France is a division of Sensient Technologies Corporation, a global manufacturer that uses advanced technologies to create ontrend colours, flavours and other specialty ingredients. Located in Strasbourg, Sensient Savory Flavors France creates flavours designed to strengthen product taste performance and provide consumers with a unique culinary experience.