Food manufacturers across the board have been investing in solutions for healthy products that still taste good to meet the demands of the health conscious consumer. Here we present a round-up of product launches by some major hydrocolloid manufacturers that seek to develop ingredients for low-fat products. TIC Gums Earlier this month, TIC Gums announced the launch of an emulsifier called Saladizer Max that offers a cost-effective alternative to the more expensive propylene glycol alginate (PGA) for use in regular and low-fat salad dressing and marinade. PGA is used as a thickener and stabilizer. Alginates are derived from alginic acid obtained from seaweed (kelp), which has seen prices shooting up over recent years. The company spent two years developing the product using its patented modified gum acacia technology. TIC said that dressings made with the product exhibit a smooth texture and creamy mouthfeel because of its emulsification characteristics. Last August, TIC launched a gum blend that claims to allow bread manufacturers to add high levels of fiber to their products without affecting the bread's texture. Ticaloid LC-SR6 is a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers, which the firm says can replace up to 20 percent of the flour in a formulation. At this level, manufacturers can add 6g of fiber to a 50g bread serving, said the company. Manufacturers of baked goods are increasingly looking to add fiber to their products due to the nutritional and health benefits linked to this, such as its promotion of digestive health and the immune system, as well as its ability to help manage hunger and therefore control weight. CP Kelco In November, a spokesperson at CP Kelco told FoodNavigator-USA.com that the rise in health and wellness, is creating challenges for formulators, but hydrocolloid companies can offer solutions. According to Dr Steve Bodicoat, marketing and innovations director, the company is focusing on solving problems presented by the shift towards health and wellness, and sees pectin as the most versatile. The majority of the pectin used currently comes from citrus peel and apple pomace. Other sources of the ingredient, such as sugar beet, mango, pumpkin and squash, have remained largely unexploited because of certain undesirable structural properties. Pectin has a worldwide production estimated at 35,000 tonnes a year, and is currently widely used as gelling agents in jams, confectionary, and bakery fillings, and stabilisers in yoghurts and milk drinks. Another area of potential for pectin is the replacement of milk proteins, spurred on by price hikes for the dairy ingredients. Dairy prices have skyrocketed this year, partly due to the rising cost in animal feed. According to the University of Wisconsin's dairy marketing program, the average price of wet condensed skim milk in Northwest USA was $2.15 per lb in October 2007 - more than double the price one year earlier. Gum Technology At the end of 2006, a new fat replacer was introduced by hydrocolloid firm Gum Technology, designed specifically to interact with the milk proteins present in dairy goods to cut fat by up to 10 percent in milk-based products. An extension to the company's Coyote Brand Stabilizer line, the dairy fat replacer contains cellulose gel (microcrystalline cellulose), konjac, sodium alginate, and xanthan, as well as soluble and insoluble fibre. The primary difference between this formulation and other products in the line is the presence of sodium alginate, said the company. This reacts with the calcium present in milk and helps introduce air to create a creamy, foamy product that claims to have excellent overrun. The gum blend can be used at different concentrations in order to work in a variety of dairy applications. In low concentrations it is suitable for products such as milkshakes. In higher concentrations it can be used for mousse, whipped cream, custards and creamy sauces.