Together with sweet, bitter, salty and sour, umami is one of the five taste sensations known to be detectable by humans. It is the taste quality associated with several amino acids, especially the amino acid L-glutamate, and is described as a hearty, savory taste, playing a part in the profile of a number of foods, including meat, fish, vegetables and dairy products. As food manufacturers are seeking to reduce sodium in their products on the back of the health concerns linked to over-consumption of sodium, they are also looking to umami as a way to increase the palatability of low-sodium foods.
Nikken Foods USA told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “The issues of salt reduction, umami flavor contribution and increasing market demand drove the development of the new mushroom extract powder…Flavor enhancing products such as mushroom, soy sauce, yeast extract, and anchovy may increase umami in low sodium foods.”
The extract comes as a powder to be incorporated by manufacturers directly into their formulations, or to be incorporated into a seasoning mix. It is made from champignon mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) extract – also known as the common or button mushroom – mixed with palm oil and spray dried onto a maltodextrin carrier. On ingredient lists, the extract would be named as ‘mushroom extract powder (maltodextrin, mushroom extract and palm oil)’, or manufacturers could choose to list the ingredients separately in the order of predominance within the list of ingredients, the company said.
Nikken Foods moved into larger premises in St Louis, Missouri in February, saying that it had outgrown its previous premises due to increased demand for its natural savory flavors and soy powders.