Often described as meaty, savoury deliciousness, umami is one of the five tastes our tongues can detect and adds a rich flavour to any meal. Vumami Foods, based in Sidney, B.C., is on a mission to create original, umami-driven products that offer bold and unique flavours – completely plant-based and sustainably sourced. As lifelong foodies and lovers of condiments, Lauren Isherwood and Nicholas Baingo founded Vumami Foods to add a little spice to their vegan meals.

“We wanted something that would make our vegan meals as delicious and craveable as the food we had during our time in South Korea,” Lauren shares. “Our customers – vegan and non-vegan – tell us how tasty and addictive our Umami Bomb Shiitake Chili Oil is. They put it on everything!”

As their first product, Umami Bomb was created through a process of trial and error, carefully blending aromatic spices, fermented bean paste, and shiitake mushrooms. Once perfected, the Umami Bomb Shiitake Chili Oil took the Canadian market by storm in mid-2020 and quickly grew a loyal, nationwide customer base.

With the guidance, resources, and support provided by Export Navigator, Vumami Foods is now on a realistic path to achieve a 3.5-fold revenue growth in 2024.

Dipping into new markets

After trialing product exports to other Canadian provinces and the US, Lauren reached out to Export Navigator in 2023 to take Vumami Foods’ exports to the next level. Export advisor Jason Seed responded and has since supported Lauren and Nicholas in exploring how they can leverage exports as a viable path for company growth.

“Our aim was to receive guidance and support in getting in touch with US retailers instead of directly selling to consumers,” Lauren says. “Jason’s support has certainly exceeded our expectations. He helped us by sharing a wide range of export resources including government-funded programs, trade commissioners in our export markets, educational programs, and more.”

Turning up the heat

In preparation for the Natural Products Expo West 2024, Jason increased Vumami Food’s outreach potential by helping them secure a shared spot at the event with the B.C. Government.

“Jason is really helpful as an ongoing advisor for questions ranging from export logistics to trade show strategy,” Lauren explains. “The Natural Products Expo West 2024 was a critical event for us to meet new distributors, retailers, and other partners in the US and stood at the core of our Q1 2024 export strategy.”

Additionally, Jason introduced Vumami Foods to the Trade Accelerator Program (TAP), created to help small and medium-sized businesses unlock their full export potential.

“Jason supported us on our admission to TAP ahead of a critical export year for our business, which supported us in scaling up our international sales,” Lauren shares. “Not only did that increase our knowledge, but it also raised our confidence levels. Now, we feel ready to launch our export plan.”


Flavours that know no bounds

Vumami Foods is forecasting that US exports will become a major part of their revenue this year. With Export Navigator’s support, they now have a realistic and achievable plan to achieve a 3.5-fold revenue growth in 2024.

“Export Navigator has been great for our growth, and we absolutely recommend it to other companies,” Lauren says. “Jason’s support has been invaluable; we encourage other businesses to really make the most of their export advisor. They have a lot to offer if you’re willing to ask!”

Jason Seed