Wolff re-focuses on added-value hydrocolloids

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Locust bean gum Gums E number

Hydrocolloids producer and distributor Alfred L Wolff is to sell
off part of its business to concentrate on its key functional
products, gum arabic and agar-agar.

This strategic move sees it shift away from lower value ingredients and the European distribution of the hydrocolloids guar gum, xanthan, carrageenan, tara gum and locust bean gum has been to sold to German distributors, A2 Trading for an undisclosed amount. This company will also take over control of shellac, dammar and copal. "For the first six months of this year we are changing a lot of things in our organisation to focus on our key products,"​ Anita Benech, marketing manager for Alfred L Wolff, told FoodNavigator.com. ​ She explained that the company has experienced a significant increase in demand for gum arabic and agar-agar as trends move towards healthier eating. The growth in their popularity over the past two years has fuelled the company's recent shift in strategy. Gum Arabic and agar-agar ​Hydrocolloids are used extensively by the food industry to texturise and stabilise food products from dressings to ice cream. Gum arabic and agar-agar have proved successful emulsifiers for products that are low in sugar and fat, and are flexible with varying qualities. Wolff hopes the new strategy will enhance its market position for these gums. The company said: "The swift evolution of customers' requirements throughout the past few years with regard to quality, specialty and tailor-made ingredients based on honey, gum Arabic, licorice and agar-agar have induced Wolff to move toward a stronger concentration on their key competencies." ​ Wolff imports the raw material for gum arabic (acacia gum), produces it as a hydrocolloid and supplies it worldwide. It is a key product for the company, having first started with this hydrocolloid since its founding in 1901. Wolff has developed gum arabic to suit different applications, from sugar-free confectionery, gums and jellies and functional beverages. It has traded with agar-agar for 60 years, supplying it to a global customer base. It maintains interest in the product because of its versatility and functionalities. A2 Trading ​ Wolff did not produce the gums that make up the business it has sold to A2 Trading, but only distributed them. Benech said: "We do not consider these specialty ingredients and they were no longer key products in the terms of business value. We are keeping the products with added value in regards to functionality." ​ Both companies insist it will be a smooth transition for the European customers. They think customers will benefit from A2 Trading's specific knowledge of the hydrocolloid business, as although the company is very new, its general manager Mirko Ahrens, has a background in the industry. The distribution and marketing of guar gum, xanthan, carrageenan, tara gum and locust bean gum to countries outside Europe will continue with Wolff, as it said it has strong contacts in these markets.

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