In search of guar gum alternatives

by Keith Nunes
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Market volatility in the guar gum market con-tinues to impact food processors as the food and beverage industry and the oil services sector, where guar gum is used in hydraulic fracturing, compete for supply. As a result, product developers are seeking alternatives in an effort to better manage costs.

In mid-October, DuPont Nutrition & Health announced a global price increase on the company’s Grindsted hydrocolloid range, which includes guar gum. The company said significant increases in raw material, energy and fuel costs were the reasons for the increase.

TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., recently said that in the past two years the demand for guar gum has spiked to 480,000 tonnes per year from 250,000 tonnes.

For companies seeking to reduce or eliminate the use of guar gum in products, they have several issues to consider. Guar gum has three main properties, said Devin Miller, vice-president of sales and marketing for Caremoli USA, Inc., Ames, Iowa. It serves as a thickener in controlling viscosity; it is completely soluble in hot and cold solutions; and it controls water activity due to its water absorbing properties.

In some specific applications, Mr. Miller said guar gum affects the smoothening of ice creams, the pour-ability of ketchups or soups, increases the fiber content of many soft drinks, and helps disperse solids in a variety of solutions.

Mr. Miller added that the replacement of guar gum in some applications is not easy. In order to cut costs the mixing with other hydrocolloids of lower functionality such as karantha, acacia or tamarind, is an option, but not all food applications respond well to blending.

“Since guar gum is used in minor percentages, rarely more than 0.5%, most prefer to eliminate it completely,” Mr. Miller said.

Marilyn Stieve, business development manager, Glanbia Nutritionals, Fitchburg, Wis., echoed Mr. Miller and noted that as a plant-derived hydrocolloid, guar gum works well in bakery applications to extend shelf life, as well as in beverages, sauces and fillings for mouthfeel and texture building. Most of Glanbia’s work in reducing or eliminating the need for guar gum has been with the company’s OptiSol 5300 ingredient, which is a hydrocolloid derived from flaxseed.

“A unique property of flaxseed is that it contains a gum matrix, known as ‘gum mucilage,’” Ms. Stieve said. “Using specially developed processing systems, functional flaxseed products have now been developed that exploit this inherent property.

“Flax ingredient solutions with strong water binding capabilities and gum mucilage can be used to replace gum systems in food applications such as gluten-free baked goods, where it can improve both texture and shelf life in gluten-free tortillas, sheeted doughs, batters, breadings, sweet baked goods and fresh bread. Gums or hydrocolloid systems that help manage moisture content are essential for gluten-free baked goods, since the flours that can be used tend to dry out food formulations.

“Plus, with global guar gum market and supply instability continuing, food manufacturers are increasingly turning to alternative systems such as flax-derived hydrocolloid ingredients for cost-effective functionality.”

Ms. Stieve said Glanbia has found it fairly easy to replace guar gum in bakery applications with OptiSol 5300.

“Depending on the type of bakery application we see typically a 1:1 replacement or a 2:1 replacement,” she said. “We have also worked with the ingredient in beverages, sauces, and filling applications to replace guar and have had success in guar replacement in these types of applications.”

This past September, at the Tortilla Industry Association Convention and Trade Exposition, TIC Gums introduced two new products, Ticaloid Guar Replacement (GR) 5420 and Ticaloid Tortilla. Both are blends of hydrocolloids that reproduce the benefits of guar gum in bakery items like tortillas but contain no guar.

Ticaloid GR 5420 is a 100% replacement for guar gum in bakery mixes, including those for tortillas and flatbreads, according to TIC Gums. The standard usage for Ticaloid Tortilla is for 4 oz to 8 oz per 100 lbs of flour. The company said it recommends five parts of water for every one part of gum used.

TIC Gums also has other replacement ingredients such as Ticaloid GR 8700. The company said the ingredient has been shown to work in instant cereal, nutrition bars and beverages. Standard use is 0.1% to 3% to build viscosity and/or mouthfeel. TIC said GR 8700 also works in film-type applications such as breath, energy and vitamin strips.

TIC Gums has introduced Ticaloid Lite Powder, a guar gum extender for use in the baking industry. While the ingredient contains a limited amount of guar gum, it delivers the functional benefits of guar through the use of other gums.

Ticaloid Lite Powder is also an ingredient from TIC, and it is a blend of hydrocolloids that has been shown to work in cakes, bread and similar baked foods to improve texture and mouthfeel, increase volume and retain moisture. It imparts a moderate stable viscosity to liquid systems. Use levels are 0.15% to 0.30% of flour weight, according to the company.

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