New biological solution brings the natural umami flavor from plant proteins

Novozymes has launched two new enzymes that enable food manufacturers to produce tasty, label-friendly meat alternatives with less salt.

More and more consumers demand low-salt, savory products with excellent taste and based on natural and recognizable ingredients. At the same time, the rapidly growing market1 for plant-based meat analogues calls for vegetarian ways to create the umami taste of meat.

To round off and enhance the umami taste of savory products such as meat analogues, soups, sauces and snacks while enabling salt reduction, food producers have the options to use yeast extract or hydrolyzed vegetable proteins (HVP). 

Yeast extract is a natural source of umami. But some consumers tend to shy away from products labelled with this ingredient as it is not perceived kitchen-cupboard-like, just as some may perceive an off-taste. 

Traditional HVP is free from any off-taste from yeast but is produced by means of chemicals and high energy consumption; processes which are often incompatible with natural claims and consumer preferences. 

Lower cost and clean label

Novozymes’ new biological solution offers an alternative to yeast extract and traditional HVP.

“HVP can now be produced more sustainably and in a cost-effective way using Novozymes newly developed enzymes. Novozymes Protana® Prime and Protana®UBoost enable production of a natural flavor preparation at up to 40% reduced cost-in-use compared to traditional enzymatic methods,” says Trine Høje Andersen, Business Development & Launch Manager at Novozymes.

Unlike HVP produced by acid hydrolysis, enzymatically produced HVP is acceptable in the production of natural flavors in the EU.  This enables producers to make a natural claim and market a product that has a perceived cleaner flavor. 

“Owing to its reduced cost-in-use, ingredients manufacturers can now offer a natural HVP as a cost-neutral, tasty and label-friendly alternative to yeast extract for savory food production,” says Trine Høje Andersen.

1The predicted meat substitute CAGR in CWE & NA between 2019 and 2024 is according to Euromonitor: 12,2% in value and 14,5% in volume.

About the enzymes

Novozymes Protana® Prime is a unique exo-peptidase blend releasing free amino acids from proteins. Applied in high dosages in combination with Alcalase® an unsurpassed deep hydrolysis of proteins is obtained. 

The full savory potential is captured when used together with Protana® UBoost which transforms glutamine with limited taste into umami tasting glutamic acid. The efficiency of Protana® Prime and the affordability of Protana® UBoost bring natural plant-based flavor enhancers (eHVP) within reach for cost neutral and label friendly exchange of e.g. acid hydrolyzed vegetable proteins (aHVP) and yeast extracts