The ingredients supplier first introduced Q-Naturale, which comes from the South American Quillaja saponaria tree, in the United States and Canada last year. Quinaia (or quinaja) saponins have around a 100 years history of use in food and beverages, as well as other uses such as production of photographic films and cosmetics.
According to NSFI, its new emulsifier is interesting to beverage formulators because it supply and cost is more consistent that for other common emulsifiers, such as gum arabic.
NSFI has teamed up with Desert King, claimed to be the world’s largest supplier of quillaia, with an exclusive partnership. This means its supply chain is reliable – and what is more, since it is grown in adherence with sustainable agriculture practices, it is protecting the quillaia population and helping to ensure future supply.
The cost and availability of gum arabic, on the other hand, can fluctuate widely since the main producing countries, like Sudan and Nigeria, are subject to climatic and political factors.
“Market fluctuations affecting some traditional emulsifiers create unpredictability and pressure for beverage manufacturers,” said Stuart Wilson, business manager, delivery systems at NSFI Europe.
Gum arabic is widely used by the food and beverage industry and the top producers (mainly Sudan) bring about 50,000 tonnes of the gum to the market each year.
According to Desert King, the saponins are extracted using an aqueous extraction of wood and bark chips.
NSFI’s ingredient comes in liquid form, and does not need dissolution or hydration. Moreover, it can be used in very small concentrations.
The company claims that Q-Naturale can even out-perform gum arabic in high-load emulsions. It is claimed to have good stability at both room- and cold-temperatures, and pH stability too.
“By offering superior natural emulsification, cost consistency and security of supply, Q-Naturale now enables the European beverage industry to protect its brands while ensuring outstanding quality,” said Wilson.
Dinah Diaz, marketing development manager of food emulsions and targeted delivery at National Starch, told FoodNavigator-USA.com at the time of the US launch that there are plans to take Q-Naturale into spray dried flavours too, which could be used to make other natural, sugar-free goods such as chewing gum.