Aberystwyth University partners with Quorn Foods to develop new flavour enhancer

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The flavour enhancer, NAGS will be used to replace salt in Quorn food products.

By U2B Staff 

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Scientists at Aberystwyth University, in a partnership with Quorn Foods have successfully created a flavour enhancer that can significantly reduce the amount of salt used in pre-packed meals and snacks.

Researchers at the university collaborated with the food company as well as several others in this research project that was funded by the UK Government’s Innovate UK programme.

The other participants in the project were retailer Waitrose & Partners, Create Flavours Ltd, Amano Enzyme Europe, Membranology and Harper Adams University.

The research project at Aberystwyth was carried out by the team at the BEACON Biorefining Centre of Excellence, which is part of the university’s Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences.


The flavour enhancer developed by the research team was made using a by-product made in the production of mycoprotein, a main ingredient in all Quorn products.

Tests have shown that the flavour enhancer will allow up to a 40% reduction in salt content in a range of food products without negatively impacting the overall taste of the food product.

The flavour enhancer called 5’ Nucleotides & Glutamates or NAGs, has demonstrated an ability to flavour savoury foods. It has been tested in a range of vegetarian food products, potato crisps and soups with positive results.

Researchers will also test other uses for the flavour enhancer once enough quantities of NAGs are available.

BEACON business development manager Mike Morris said, “This is an example of scientific research at BEACON which could have a far-reaching effect on people’s health. Reducing salt in pre-packaged foods is seen as essential to reduce conditions like heart disease, which places a massive burden on our health services and cause long-term debilitating conditions which negatively impact the lives of millions of people worldwide.”

Morris added that this project has succeeded in taking a natural by-product and refining it into a state which can be added to foods to replace high salt content.


The initial sensory tests carried out show that it is effective and does not negatively impact the flavour.

Quorn Foods has begun creating a plan for the potential production of the flavour enhancer, due to the positive outcome of the project.

The food company, that specialises in developing plant-based protein-rich food products is now exploring the business and commercial case for the ongoing production of the taste enhancer in order to decide upon the next steps.

Head of research and development for Quorn Foods, Muyiwa Akintoye expressed excitement at this discovery, “Here at Quorn Foods, we are very pleased that the Innovate UK funding has enabled us to make this breakthrough in redeveloping the liquid by-product from our fermentation process.”

Akintoye added that the further processing of the by-product is successful in reducing and eliminating wastage, which is in line with Quorn’s sustainability programme.