Mobile Menu
France flag


Delivering an Umami-Rich Flavor ExperiencE

2024 Food & Flavor Outlook        November 2024          Custom Culinary®

Unstoppable Umami Fork Pictured with Pasta and Mushrooms

​Though sometimes described as the “fifth taste,” umami is more than just a perceived flavour. It’s a sensation, a culinary experience and a concept that elevates food to new heights.

From fermented fish sauces like garum, dating back to ancient Rome, to more contemporary inventions like Australia’s beloved chicken salt, the desire to capture the delicious, memorable nature of umami takes on many forms.
While some animal proteins like beef and seafood are naturally rich in umami, non-meat ingredients can also be used to amplify umami in plant-based applications. Sauces ranging from salty to spicy are great for enhancing flavour, thanks to ingredients like soy, kelp, fermented black beans and smoked tomato. Umami-rich mushrooms are also commonly found in protein applications, especially with the rise of blended burgers.

  • Roasted tomato seasoning for cooking chicken and stews (Mexico)

  • Vegan sausage made with sunflower seed and pea protein, infused with umami smoked water (Sweden)

  • Cauliflower, hemp seed and wild mushroom burgers made with shiitake, porcini and reishi mushrooms, along with black garlic (US)

Not all regions call out “umami” as a retail product descriptor, though, especially in the snacking category. But many craveable treats showcase seaweed, black truffle and aged cheeses that boost flavour without additional salt. 

  • Black truffle mixed root vegetable chips, cooked in rice bran oil (UAE)

  • Crunchy oven-baked Parmesan with pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds (Brazil)

  • Savory trail mixes with mushroom jerky, pickle chips and toasted corn (Canada)

Flavour-packed dishes are opening consumers’ eyes to the power of umami across many restaurant segments. As demand for bold, intense flavours grows, independents and chain operators alike are finding success incorporating umami-rich ingredients into classic menu items.

  • Vegan tortelli pasta with coal-roasted tomato, burratina and black truffle (South Africa)

  • A Korean BBQ burger made with teriyaki-braised shredded beef, kimchi, caramelized onion and soy garlic aioli (US)

  • French fries shaken with a sweet and sour ume plum, grilled nori, garlic and black pepper salt (Japan)

The desire to harness umami is at the heart of many global culinary styles, drawn out through techniques like curing, roasting and slow cooking that break down proteins and naturally produce glutamates. As consumers seek out simpler, more wholesome diets, umami-rich ingredients hold exceptional power to transform the way we eat.


FOODSERVICE: The use of “umami” as a menu descriptor is growing across channels, while other operators simply promote umami ingredients like shiitake, soy and seaweed—recognizing them for their rich flavour and mouthfeel.
PROTEIN PROCESSORS: Seasonings, stock add-ins and sauces are enhancing proteins that don’t inherently create an umami experience. This is also true of meat alternatives looking to replicate the experience of proteins such as beef.  
SNACKING: Powerhouse flavours and ingredients such as Parmesan, matcha and tomato are being leveraged to create umami-rich snacking experiences in a variety of formats. 


Umami is the star of the show in Chef Chris Schwellenbach’s Mighty Maitake dish. It features grilled maitake mushrooms dressed in a soy, mirin and chili glaze. They’re served with gochugaru aioli, crispy shallots. Watch our video to discover this exciting play on textures and flavours!


Umami-Rich Ingredients
Umami-Rich Ingredients

Showcasing a variety of cooking techniques to coax out umami flavours helps to elevate pasta in a delicious way. Think aged Parmesan, perfectly sautéed mushrooms, truffle paste and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Bucatini with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffles

Bucatini with Porcini Mushrooms and Truffles

Al dente bucatini tossed with a creamy truffle sauce, topped with sautéed porcini mushrooms and aged Parmesan cheese. Finished with black truffle and parsley.  


Umami notes add a craveable quality to composed dishes and product offerings alike. Contact your Griffith Foods representative to learn how our versatile products can enhance your culinary creations.


Umami feeds the need for more intense, more craveable and more exciting flavour across both retail and foodservice applications. What’s coming next?


With more consumers limiting their animal product consumption, brands will leverage vegetarian umami seasonings, stocks and bases to recreate and enhance “meaty” flavour.


Snack brands and foodservice operators will be more descriptive with their callouts, connecting specific ingredients to umami-related flavour language to better educate consumers on the concept.   


Japanese scientists have identified a sensation called “kokumi,” described as a perceived richness that heightens other flavours. When studied alongside umami, it could serve to unlock foods that taste more delicious and savory than ever before.   

2024 Food & Flavor Footer

Mintel, 2024 FlavorIQ® Food and Flavor Outlook Report, January 2024.
“Move over umami, a sixth taste sensation has been discovered,” Delicious, July 22, 2019.
Taras Grescoe, “Culinary Detectives Try to Recover the Formula for a Deliciously Fishy Roman Condiment,” Smithsonian Magazine, November 2021.
Tommy Werner, “What Is Chicken Salt? It's Australia's Secret Umami Bomb,” Epicurious, May 16, 2019.


© 2024 Griffith Foods. All rights reserved.
*Custom Culinary® is part of the Griffith Foods family of companies.