The company has an 80 year history in the lecithin market, and has previously offered just a standard grade. Although it has always been able to supply superior grades of the emulsifier at the request of customers, now it is making all of these grades available as a matter of course.
The line, called the Lecitin Quality Toolbox consists of Standard, High, Premium, and FQ-Max - all of which come with full traceability. The main quality factors taken into consideration were based around product safety, functionality and product value.
The idea is to help manufacturers pinpoint what they actually need from their lecithin, and give them an up-front choice for product-application match and cost effectiveness. Moreover, by narrowing down the selection criteria, the need for long questionnaires and quality testing is minimised.
"Some applications require an extremely detailed quality requirements specification, whilst at the other end of the scale, this degree of sophistication would be equivalent to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut," said Hanns-Georg Bueschelberger, product line director lecithins at Cargill.
Quality differences occur because lecithins, which come from natural sources, are a mixture of different chemical constituents that work together to contribute to final functionality.
Lecithin was originally made from egg yolk, but is now more commonly made from plants and vegetables, most notably soybeans. As an emulsifier, it plays an important part in obtaining the right texture for a variety of applications, including chocolate and confectionery, margarines and spreads, bakery, beverages, convenience foods, processed meats and ice cream.
The Cargill toolbox has been put together by selective blending and standardisation, to overcome the variations in raw materials.
But when it comes to more detailed quality requirements for specific applications, more attention is given to the selection of raw material and analytical proof of its functionality.
Another key consideration in modern times are quality assurance and food safety standards. The parameters of Cargill's lecithin offering mean it can be described as a "risk management system", according to Bueschelberger.
The range also seeks to cater to regional preferences, regulations and quality standards.
For instance, Christine Nicolay, marketing and communications manager, said that high IP identity preserved soy lecithin is preferred in Europe. Issues of genetic modification figure large in ingredient choice. While the market prefers non-GM, this comes at a premium.
Cargill offers four types of lecithin:
Fluid lecithin, for cake and confectionery toppings (brands Topcithin, leciprime, Lecisoy and Chocotop); Tailored fluid lecithin for bakery (Emulfluid); De-oiled lecithin, for chocolate and confectionery and salad dressings (Emulpur, Lecigran; Emultop; Lecimulthin); and Selected/fractionated de-oiled lecithin for instant powder beverages (Metarin).