Food makers see cost savings in microencapsulation

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food Nutrition

The increasing economic viability of microencapsulation technology
has led to significant interest within the food and beverage
industry.

And according to market analyst Frost & Sullivan, this has opened the door to new ingredients and the development of novel food properties.

"Microencapsulation has the ability to facilitate protected and targeted nutrition in a number of processed food products,"​ said Frost & Sullivan industry manager Kathy Brownlie.

"It is fast becoming the most successful delivery systems that is enabling food ingredient companies to tap into consumer health trends."

Microcapsules are tiny particles that contain an active agent or core material surrounded by a shell or coating, and are now increasingly being used in food ingredients preparation.

Indeed, with the fear of commodification continuously looming, food manufacturers are turning to microencapsulation technologies as a way of achieving much-needed differentiation and enhancing product value. Tapping into key and emerging consumer trends with innovative techniques is becoming increasingly important for food manufacturers.

Frost & Sullivan says that changing consumer trends and tastes are primarily responsible for driving innovation in the microencapsulation market. Since food manufacturersconstantly monitor such trends, food ingredients companies are always looking for ways to meet these ever-changing demands, thereby promoting the need for novel microencapsulation technologies.

"The demand for encapsulation technologies is estimated to be increasing at around 10 per cent annually, with new markets and opportunities opening up every year,"​ said Brownlie.

"The sector is continuously innovating, and challenges associated with different food systems call for the use of different microencapsulation technologies."

Microencapsulation can provide manufacturers with solutions as seen in several recent developments. For example, the encapsulation of probiotics in hydrocolloid beads helps to improve their survival rate right throughprocessing and digestion.

Moreover, new microencapsulation methods help to solve the issues related to oxidisation.

"The growing functional foods market is a major driving force behind microencapsulation innovation,"​ said Brownlie.

"Microencapsulation offers food companies a viable means of penetrating this lucrative growth sector because it has the ability to mask the undesirable tastes associated with some of these ingredients."

This also implies significant opportunities in the highly profitable children's market. While consumers are becoming more health-conscious and are demanding more nutritious products, they are unwilling to compromise on taste.

Since taste is particularly important to children, companies canmicroencapsulate minerals or vitamins in an appealing product such as chewing gum or candies. This would go a long way in ensuring that children get their daily-recommended intake of these supplements.

Another example in the convenience food sector, is in home-baked pizza products, where sodium bicarbonate can be encapsulated to prevent early release of the bicarbonate and delay the reaction of the leavening phosphate until the crust reaches a specific temperature in the oven.

An overview of the latest analysis of the opportunities in the microencapsulated food ingredients market is now available from Frost & Sullivan.

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