Why is tomato juice with umami, the airplane drink?

Why is tomato juice with umami, the airplane drink?

Have you noticed that you are most likely to be craving for a tomato juice on a plane? We invested why, and how the umami taste is relevant in the tomato juice recipe.

A few years ago, the German airline Lufthansa realized that it was serving more than 200,000 liters of tomato juice a year. They went to the German research institute Fraunhofer (Munich) to find an explanation for such a trend.
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Society confirmed that people enjoyed tomato juice more on planes, for the freshness of the juice in altitude. If compared, tomato juice drunk on ground level tastes rather less fresh and poorer. However, on a plane, it shows more acidity, with a mineral taste.

According to experts, this could be explained by different reasons.

When you are on a plane, the cabin pressure is low. You get less oxygen in blood and your nasal cavities are obstructed. That is what makes you less receptive to odors and taste. Plus, on an airplane, the cabin is kept at about 10 to 15 percent humidity. That dries out your nose and mouth, reducing your sense of taste by 30%.
Moreover, planes are very loud. You go up to hearing 85 decibels while going through the sky at 575 miles per hour. This loudness compromises the taste.
All this explains why being on a plane feels like having a bad cold. Sweets are less sweet, salty food is less salty, some spices or herbs are harder to taste…and most airplane food taste bland!

Tomato juice, an exception

Tomato juice is one of the main exceptions due to its strong taste of umami. The fifth Japanese taste is undeniably unaffected by altitude, and its subtle balance of sweet and salty flavors is even intensified.

Therefore, the United Airlines Executive Chef Gerry McLoughli, uses umami-rich ingredients in its menus, such as spinach, tomatoes and shellfish, to intensify in-flight meals.

This is also explained by Prof. Charles Spence, Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, England: “Well, it turns out that the umami taste, as it appears e.g. in tomato juice, is not impacted by loud background noise. That means that a Bloody Mary, for example, retains its full taste and flavor in the air and thus makes all foods that are rich in umami more palatable. In contrast, sweetness and, to a lesser extent, saltiness both show suppression.”

Biospringer, a natural* solution for umami taste

Biospringer offers you a natural* solution to bring umami in food application, with the range Springer® 2000. In our Tomato Juice Recipe, you will find that our yeast extract Springer® 2012 enables to reduce salt content by 30% and to add a long-lasting umami taste like the one you feel on altitude !

*according to ISO TS19657

BIOSPRINGER is a trademark and it does not imply systematically that the product is organic according to EU Regulation 2018/ 848, the status of each product supplied should be checked on the technical documentation.