More than a stabilizer

by Jeff Gelski
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Vegetable oil prices continue to escalate while reducing fat in products remains a challenge. Food and beverage formulators wanting to tackle these two issues may find useful tools in emulsifiers, probably known more for their ability to form and stabilize emulsions.

Danisco has developed emulsifier solutions designed to help food manufacturers absorb higher costs. A solution for margarine and spreads allows vegetable oil content to be reduced and replaced with water. Other solutions may reduce gluten in bread while maintaining high bread volume.

"As we are just as affected by these increases in raw material prices as our customers, we are committed to finding a way around them," said Dorte Petersen, Danisco’s regional emulsifier director in Europe.

Danisco expects price increases of at least 10% in the global emulsifier market, Ms. Petersen said, but this increase will have a minor impact on food producers.

"A much more severe issue is the general increase of commodity costs, which impacts the cost of the food product much more," she said.

Statistics verify higher vegetable oil costs. Soybean oil, Decatur, Ill., sold at 34.25c per lb on Aug. 24, which compared with 22.75c a year earlier. Palm oil sold at 41.75c per lb on Aug. 24, which compared with 25.75c per lb a year earlier.

Prices for all vegetable oils are increasing, but emulsifier use may control costs, said Dr. Jenifer Galante, senior research manager for Stepan Food & Health Specialties, Maywood, N.J. Fat reduction is another area of interest for Stepan. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 approved Stepan’s self-affirmed Generally Recognized as Safe claim for the use of Drewpol PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleic acid), a water-in-oil emulsifier, in low-fat spreads, margarine and dairy analogs.

Applying Drewpol PGPR at 0.2% may create a low-fat spread that is 35% stabilized soybean oil and 55.9% water by weight. To prepare a low-fat spread acceptable for frying, formulators may use Drewpol PGPR at 0.4%. Stabilized soybean oil may be 40% of the low-fat spread by weight with water at 57.8%.

In chocolate applications, Drewpol PGPR may be combined with lecithin to provide for uniform enrobing at reduced use levels. Many European chocolate manufacturers use this strategy, Ms. Galante said.

Emulsifiers increasingly are used as fat substitutes since they mimic fat in almost all functional categories, according to a Frost & Sullivan report released in August. The report estimates the European emulsifiers market will increase to $911.3 million in revenues in 2013 from $574 million in 2006.

"The wellness trend among consumers coupled with the improved functionality of emulsifiers is the main factor propelling the European emulsifier market forward," Frost & Sullivan said. "The burgeoning health awareness has stimulated consumer interest toward low-fat products and this has augmented the consumption of emulsifiers, which are being increasingly used in fat replacers."

Using one emulsifier may not bring all the desired results, such as stability, viscosity and organoleptic qualities. The Frost & Sullivan report said in most cases an emulsifier system, or a blend of various emulsifiers, may be needed.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, September 4, 2007, starting on Page 38. Click here to search that archive.

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