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Kerry launches emulsifier made from acacia

Dive Brief:

  • Kerry launched Puremul, an emulsifier made from acacia that can replace sunflower lecithin and mono- and diglycerides in food and beverage products.
  • The ingredient giant told Food Dive that applications for Puremul include plant-based beverages, baked goods and frozen dessert products. Kerry said the ingredient will help alleviate the existing supply chain challenges and pricing instability currently impacting sunflower lecithin.
  • As food producers struggle to access inputs due in large part to the war in Ukraine, many CPG companies are looking for cost-effective ingredient substitutes.

Dive Insight:

Kerry is pitching Puremul to producers as a superior ingredient that’s also readily in supply. Those favorable attributes in today’s uncertain environment could quickly resonate with food makers.

Mono- and dyglycerides, which Kerry aims to replace, are emulsifiers — ingredients that combine water and oil to prevent separation. They are added to foods to enhance their texture and consistency, and to extend their shelf life. Emulsifiers are found in a variety of applications, from mayonnaise to baked goods to processed meats. While the FDA recognizes the ingredients as generally safe, some consumers worry about their small amounts of trans fat.

Sunflower lecithin, which is also used as an emulsifier, has been shown to have health benefits, but prices have soared as the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hurt production, harvest and shipping. Companies have scrambled to look for solutions.

In addition to supply, Puremul has other attributes that could make it attractive for use in foods and beverages.

It’s not only perceived as healthier compared to mono- and diglycerides — meeting growing consumer demand for clean label options — but it’s naturally sourced from the sustainable, drought-resistant acacia tree cultivated by local farmers in Africa. Kerry cited research that found 82% of US consumers believe a clean label is important.

Tim Cottrell, Kerry North America’s business development director for emulsifiers, texturants and gum acacia, said in an interview that a plant-based beverage producer who tested the product found it created a whiter color and preferred sensory properties like taste and texture compared to other emulsifiers. Puremul outperforms sunflower lecithin in some cases, the company claimed.

“Manufacturers and product developers in bakery and plant-based beverages will find this an exciting, clean label emulsification alternative for use in both reformulations and new-product development,” Cottrell said in a statement.

Other ingredient providers have developed emulsifier alternatives in recent years. DuPont launched a powdered emulsifier in 2019 for baked goods. Ingredion debuted a clean label emulsifier for dressings and sauces made with chickpeas a year later.

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