The range is made using microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) based ingredients, which are naturally derived from purified plant fibre and is a good source of dietary fibre while contributing very few calories in food systems. FMC BioPolymer, an operating unit of chemical company FMC Corporation, sources MCC from renewable raw materials to ensure product availability, and has developed it for use in various applications as a binder. When used in ice cream, the range is intended to enhance functionality, while reducing fat content and costs by replacing some milk solids. FMC has developed formulations with up to 33 per cent reduction in milk solids, helping ice cream manufacturers who have faced shrinking margins due to rising input costs, as dairy products are at an all time high. According to the company, some formulations can result in savings of up to €100,000 per million litres of vegetable fat based ice cream, and greater savings for dairy fat based ice cream. MCC has other benefits in ice cream, spokesperson Sanjay Gandhi told FoodNavigator.com. It improves meltdown control, ensuring the product neither melts too slowly nor too quickly when exposed to room temperature. Additionally, its helps shape retention in extruded products and heat shock resistance, meaning the structure will not be disturbed in the course of reaching the consumer. FMC is a key supplier of MCC worldwide, with brands Avicel, Avicel-plus and Gelstar, which were launched 40 years ago to the food and speciality industries. The Gelstar products have been met with significant success in the US where they were originally launched. The American market was chosen first because it is larger with a greater number of low-fat frozen dessert product launches. In adapting the range for Europe, the company has had to change the levels of individual constituents as almost all ice cream products in the US are based on animal fat, while many here are based on vegetable fat. The low-fat segment is the fastest growing segment of the European frozen dessert market as the health and wellbeing trend continues to thrive. The value of the low-fat or reduced-sugar market grew by 3.8 per cent in 2006 - the same annual growth rate as in 2005, according to Research and Markets. However, the low-fat and reduced-sugar foods and drinks sector is forecast to increase at a slowing growth rate over the next 5 years. FMC joins a number of other companies aiming to reduce calories and costs in frozen desserts. Last December, Kerry Bio-Science launched Sherex Enlite to improve creaminess, stability and shelf life of ice cream while requiring less fat and milk solids to produce air bubbles and crystals, thereby cutting costs. In 2006, Danisco claimed ice cream with less than one per cent fat is possible thanks its ingredient blend, based on its Cremodan IcePro technology, that prevents unwanted ice crystals from forming. FMC showcased its Gelstar technology recently at FIE in London and at Inter-Ice in Cologne. It now wants to work directly with ice cream manufacturers who can utlise its technical resources and pilot plant in Brussels. Due to the continuing demand for low fat dairy products worldwide, the company also announced this month that it will expand MCC production in the at its Newark, Delaware plant.