Emulsifiers, palm oil
Sustainable sourcing could be a factor when using palm oil-based emulsifiers.

Certified palm oil

Palsgaard, Juelsminde, Denmark, relies on palm oil for many of its emulsifiers. The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, a not-for-profit organization that unites stakeholders from the palm oil industry, offers certified sustainable palm oil. Palsgaard is converting to 100% sustainable palm oil and palm oil-based ingredients. The company belongs to the R.S.P.O., which seeks to minimize the negative impact of palm oil cultivation on the environment and communities in palm oil-producing regions.

In a study of food manufacturers carried out by research institute Ennova for Palsgaard, 88% of the 276 respondents from around the world said buying sustainable raw materials was important to their business. The percentage was 91% among purchasing department representatives.

“Recipes based on sustainable ingredients help to answer the health, safety and environmental concerns of both consumers and manufacturers, and they can open doors to new markets, too,” said Jakob Thøisen, chief executive officer of Palsgaard.

Many larger food companies and food service companies want to know if palm-based emulsifiers contain palm oil that was sourced sustainably, Mr. Cottrell said. Kerry is being proactive about increasing supply of such emulsifiers, he said.

“We need to provide these certifications with the emulsifiers,” he said.

Multifunctional benefits

When replacing emulsifiers that may not meet a company’s clean label goals, a company should remember emulsifiers provide various benefits, meaning more than one ingredient may be needed to replace one emulsifier.

“Emulsifiers in baked products are extremely multifunctional,” Mr. Cottrell said.

Emulsifiers may be used primarily for textural purposes, but other secondary purposes still may need addressing. Emulsifiers affect how the dough handles, how the dough hydrates and how components come together in the dough, he said. Emulsifiers also influence absorption level and how the product slices and packages.

“That’s why emulsifiers are so unique,” Mr. Cottrell said. “They are low-cost, highly functional ingredients that work very well, and when you try to replace them, it’s difficult to achieve the same functionality with one or two or three ingredients that you’re adding.”