A spokesperson at Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods, a subsidiary of Japanese behemoth Mitsubishi Chemical, confirmed to BakeryAndSnacks.com this morning that the new facility will mix emulsifiers with other food ingredients for use in breads and other bakery products.
"A key target for us is China, so we are investing money and human resources into this market," the spokesperson added.
Traditionally, the prime function of emulsifiers has been to stabilise an emulsion, but in today's food product design, they are now also increasingly used to improve the sensory characteristics of many processed foods. And in bakery, where the focus is on healthier, high fibre products, emulsifiers can be used to ensure the bread does not turn out too heavy.
Key emulsifiers for bread and bakery product applications include mono- and diglycerides, fatty acid esters, sucrose esters and polyglycerol esters.
With the additional uses for emulsifiers comes greater demand, and fresh opportunities for ingredients firms, such as Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods’ new move to open its first facility in China.
According to Leatherhead International's recent report 'The food additives market: Global trends and developments', between 2006 and 2007 the global emulsifiers market galloped ahead by 8.1 per cent to reach around US$1.6bn (about €1bn) in 2007.
Nowhere is growth more evident, spurred by dynamic demand for multifunction emulsifiers, than in the Asia Pacific region. The Leatherhead report states that Chinese demand for emulsifiers, that reached about $68m in 2006, is expected to triple to $200m by 2013.
The new facility for Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods, to be located in the city of Suzhou, is tipped to have an annual capacity of 200 to 300 tons. Food emulsifiers produced in Japan by the firm will be brought to the plant, where they will be mixed with food additives.
Mitsubishi-Kagaku Foods formulates its food emulsifiers by combining sucrose, which is highly dissolvable in water, and fatty acid, which dissolves in oil. "We mainly have emulsifiers, but also enzymes and lactic acid bacteria in our portfolio," said the spokesperson.
Globally, Europe accounts for around 35 per cent of emulsifier sales, with the US possessing slightly less of the market, according to the Leatherhead report.
Players in the global emulsifier market include Denmark's Danisco, Ireland's Kerry (since it's acquisition of the former Quest food ingredients business), US firm ADM, Danish company Palsgaard and Japanese firm Riken Vitamin.