Sheep meat

Extracting kokumi – the sixth red meat taste sensation

Sheep Central June 19, 2024

WELCOME to the regular series of articles focusing on red meat R&D, presented by Beef Central and the Australian Meat Processor Corporation. These items highlight a range of projects designed to enhance the efficiency, productivity, product quality and safety of Australian red meat sold into the domestic market and around the world.

All have the ability to help underpin Australia’s unrivalled reputation as the world’s premier export of quality beef, lamb and offal. Links to previous articles in the series appear below.



KOKUMI, the sixth taste sensation after sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, is the subject of a new Australian Meat Processor Corporation research project.

Kokumi is a feeling which can be described as perceived richness and roundness that heightens the other five tastes and prolongs their flavour.

Slow-cooked beef brisket is one of the secondary cuts taking off in Australia’s foodie scene.

The ‘taste’ can be found in cuisines where it naturally occurs in aged and fermented foods like alcohol, soy sauce, fish sauce, bread, chicken soup and shrimp paste.

It explains why when a soup or a stew has simmered for several hours, it takes on a richer, deeper flavour. And when cheese is allowed to mature, its flavour becomes more complex and lasting.

Scientists have had trouble pinpointing kokumi because it is not achieved with a single molecule, rather, it is activated by glutamyl peptides that occur naturally in fermented and aged foods.

Now, AMPC, working together with AgResearch NZ, are researching how to extract flavour peptides from beef offal products such as lungs and livers.

Ag research has started researching how to extract flavour peptides from red meat offal products in their lab in New Zealand to see if kokumi can be extracted into a powder form suitable for commercialising.

AMPC program manager Ann McDonald said currently, offal products are often rendered or turned into pet food. The outcomes from this research program will mean that red meat processors will have significant value added to offal products which are generally considered low value.

“Importantly, this kind of work has never been done in meat before,” Ms McDonald said.

“So this is a first. There are commercially available plant-based organic flavour enhancers, however not a single animal based kokumi flavour enhancing product is available in the current global market.”

AgResearch International Business Manager for Australia and Asia Li Day said AgResearch had developed a cost-effective enzymatic method to generate food-grade kokumi flavour peptides which can be added to food to enhance its flavour and to provide depth and enhancement of flavour in foods.

“In this research, we are producing kokumi taste extracts from beef offal products that can be added to any food recipe to elevate its overall flavour. This will provide a fantastic opportunity for the red meat processing industry to add value to beef offal such as liver and lungs,” she said.

The research will be finished later this year.

Source: AMPC


About the Australian Meat Processor Corporation

AMPC is the research and development corporation for the red meat processing industry in Australia. As the research, development and marketing service provider for processors, AMPC runs programs of activity that are funded by processor levy payers, private contributions and the Australian Government. AMPC’s mission is to drive world-class innovation, adoption and strategic policy development through genuine partnerships built on trust.


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