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Japan Airlines has a taste for Finnish food waste-based umami

BioMush’s all-natural umami products can be used to flavour vegetable-based food.


Japan Airlines (JAL), Finnair Kitchen and Finnish food tech company BioMush have collaborated to introduce a new umami flavouring to JAL’s vegetarian in-flight menu.

The menu features a soya-free umami sauce-based yuzu dressing, which is made of all-natural ingredients sourced from food industry side streams. It’ll be served in business class on JAL flights from March to August 2024.

At the core of the collaboration is BioMush’s innovative fermentation technology, which makes it possible to transform edible side streams and food waste into umami and other flavouring ingredients. Umami is one of the five basic tastes and is often described as a rich and savoury flavour, which plant-based proteins naturally lack.

“We are thrilled about the collaboration with JAL, not least due to the fact that fermentation is part of Japanese heritage,” said Kaisa Karhunen, CEO at BioMush. “We are honoured to be able to show how to combine traditional methods and modern technological innovations, to bring taste to life.”

Besides taste, the partnership underscores sustainability. Through the collaboration, JAL seeks to raise awareness about clean-label and circular solutions in the food industry. Yutaka Fukuda, vice president and regional manager for Northern and Central Europe at JAL, calls the yuzu dressing “the cherry on top of the new in-flight vegetarian menu”.

“With the partnership, we aim to build a new positive cycle that contributes to regional contribution, cultural exchange and demand stimulation by utilising and promoting Japanese and Finnish products in in-flight meals,” Fukuda added.

Japan Airlines will operate its Helsinki—Tokyo route five times a week starting from 31 March. 

Facebook / Japan Airlines

According to BioMush, 14 per cent of food industry side streams go to waste globally. Although addressing this issue is a priority for the Espoo-based company, its technology extends beyond food. It can also be applied, for example, to alternative proteins, biocomposite materials and the pre-treatment of biomass.

Currently, BioMush operates a small-scale test factory that can handle two tonnes of food industry side streams a month. However, the company aims to double its production capacity by the end of 2025.

By: Eeva Haaramo