Angel Yeast’s yeast extract products are obtained from molasses-cultured yeast, which are autolyzed to obtain the extract and made into pastes or powders.
“Our products are gluten-free, allergen-free, halal, kosher and can be used in multiple food product applications such as snacks, flavourings, instant noodles, sauces, biscuits and more,” Angel Yeast International Business Director Eric Ao told FoodNavigator-Asia at the recent Fi Asia Thailand 2019 show in Bangkok.
“The popularity of yeast extract is booming, especially in regions such as Japan, Korea, Europe and the United States, and this is being driven by three mega trends worldwide: Clean label, sodium reduction and the rise of vegan/vegetarian food.”
He explained that in most regions, such as China and the United States, yeast extract is recognized as a food ingredient and not a food additive, hence does not carry an ‘E’ number which makes it suitable to use for clean label purposes.
“Yeast extract can be used to replace monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other artificial flavourings so as to eliminate E additives from this source from the label,” he said.
Sodium reduction is normally not easy to attain, especially in packaged foods, as it is considered a ‘taste base’, meaning that the less of it is used, the less taste the food will inevitably have.
“It is difficult to reduce salt normally, [but] yeast extracts can do this by heling to enhance flavours and taste in the food product – for example, our high-nucleotide yeast extract can be used to replace some 20% to 30% of sodium content,” said Ao.
As for vegan or vegetarian food applications, because yeast is not an animal organism, he added that these extracts can be used in these diets.
“The vegan and vegetarian food is on the rise, and we believe that yeast extracts can play a big role in flavouring these, whether in terms of enhancing foods with a ‘meaty’ taste, giving better mouthfeel, or as a good protein source.”
Types of yeast extracts
Angel Yeast’s flavour enhancer products are classified into four categories: Basic yeast extracts, Xian yeast extracts, Hou-Feel yeast extracts, and specialty customized flavoured yeast extracts e.g. chicken or soy sauce flavours.
“Our most popular item is still the basic yeast extract, which is widely used by companies such as Nestle and Unilever in their products, but our more recent launches Xian and Hou-Feel are also coming up,” said Ao.
Xian means ‘fresh’ in Chinese, and focuses on bringing out the taste in foods, whereas Hou-Feel means either ‘thick’ or ‘lasting’ and focuses on ‘mouthfulness’ and longer-lasting flavour.
“Both of these are based on Japanese concepts: Xian is the delicious umami taste, whereas Hou-Feel is about kokumi, which gives lingering aftertaste,” explained Ao.
“Both the terms umami and kokumi were trademarked by Ajinomoto previously so we can’t use these directly, but the product functionality is essentially the same.”
Growth and challenges
Angel Yeast was first established by the Chinese government as a yeast research laboratory back in 1986. It went public as of 2000, but still receives governmental support for its work.
“We are the main yeast extract global supplier worldwide,” said Ao.
“Our biggest presence is still in China, so we have 10 factories in the country, but we also have one in Russia and recently opened one in Egypt – This site is very important for us, especially for the US market in light of the trade war.
“That said, we export to over 150 countries worldwide, and as such are looking to establish more factories globally such as in South America and Africa.”
Ao added that one of the company’s major challenges is in its product pricing, which is higher than regular MSG or other flavourings die to its natural characteristic.
“Customers say it is more expensive than MSG, and it is, some 2x to 3x more for basic yeast, and even more for the others,” he said.
“They know it is a good product, but the issue is cost – so we hope to overcome this by educating the market and guiding consumers towards the benefits of such a natural product.”