Suppliers respond to shifting demands for emulsifiers
The fat reduction trend has been a driving force behind expanding demand for emulsifiers in Europe, and demands continue to change, with an increased focus on natural, clean label and sustainable options.
Emulsifiers now represent the fastest growing segment of the European food additives market, according to a report from RnRMarketResearch, as food manufacturers increasingly seek ingredients to help them reach their fat reduction goals and achieve better texture in dairy-free products.
In food, emulsifiers are used to combine oil and water in a smooth and stable form that prevents separation. Mono- and di-glycerides derived from fatty acids are among the most common emulsifiers, but demand for clean label ingredients has spurred innovation in the sector. Dutch potato ingredient specialist Avebe, for instance, has developed a range of texturising and emulsifying ingredients from potatoes to reduce fat and improve texture in dairy products and creamy dressings. And Fiberstar is a company that uses ingredients made from dried orange pulp, including to replace traditional emulsifiers.
While clean label alternatives is clearly a strong growth area for suppliers, others are focusing on more sustainable alternatives, too. DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, for example, recently has released a powdered emulsifier ingredient to replace hydrated monoglycerides in baked goods, as a dough conditioner and crumb strengthener. Its dry format means less wastage in use – it does not stick to the container – and lower transportation costs, as it requires fewer trucks and packaging materials. The company also offers emulsifiers made from certified sustainable palm oil, as it responds to increased demand from manufacturers and consumers alike for more environmentally friendly ingredients.
Meanwhile, emulsifier suppliers also are seeing increased demand from manufacturers looking to replace eggs in their products. Eggs are one of the oldest and most commonly used emulsifiers, but demand for replacers has risen sharply in recent years with increased interest in vegan and allergen-free foods.
Corbion Caravan is among those aiming to tap into this demand with a range of blended products. Its egg replacers are made from specialised whey proteins, gums, enzymes and emulsifiers, intended to replace 50%-100% of eggs or egg whites.
The market for plant-based dairy alternatives is also fertile ground for innovation in emulsifiers, as creating an appealing creamy texture can be a major challenge for product developers. Palsgaard has looked at functional problems with dairy alternative drinks in particular, and suggests using emulsifiers like vegetable fats and oils to emulate the texture of dairy proteins.
While suppliers are focused on responding to a wide variety of food industry demands – from clean label and sustainable, to vegan and allergen-free – taste remains the number one factor influencing food choices. Much of what consumers think of as ‘taste’ is also linked to texture, meaning manufacturers must pay careful attention to the overall effect of any ingredient substitution, but the number of options available continues to expand.