The Poetry of Words
Umami may be one of the best examples of the shift in craveability, and this idea of the impact of umami can be looked at in two ways.
The fact that umami has even moved into, and arguably taken over, many food discussions is compelling. Beyond more technical discussions in culinary schools and academic venues related to food, the common consumer had probably never heard the term “umami” until recently. Taking Instagram as a measure of awareness, there are now nearly 200,000 posts marked with #umami.
Umami is the basis of craveability. It is, essentially, the deliciousness that governs our palate and makes an item hard to resist. That’s not to say all umami-heavy ingredients such as Parmesan, mushrooms, soy and fish sauce will create the same craveability in all patrons, but the presence of umami certainly doesn’t hurt. Umami holds the promise of a memorable, singular experience.
So, is the rise in presence of the term “umami” an indication of the importance of craveability, or is the growing impact of craveability an indication of the importance of umami? Likely, it’s both. Industry focus on creating craveability has heightened the significance of the role of umami in ideation, but the newfound respect for and discussion of umami speaks to how important craveability is in an increasingly competitive foodservice landscape.
From a menu communications point of view, the parallel rise of craveability and umami has impacted how operators try to drive trial absent of a visually based menu. Five or more years ago, that may have been through general terms that hint at both umami and craveability, like “delicious,” “tasty” and “yummy.”
Given our new culture that’s hyper-focused on food, those terms are far too vague to carry the same weight. Operators must provide a consumer more information to drive craveability. This is now done through more precise inclusion of ingredients in menu descriptors, flavor enhancement through preparation, and the impact of formats on taste. Craveability, in its most basic form, is driven by the desire to experience and enjoy flavor.
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- Decadence and Prudence… In Words
- Craveability in Technicolor