Rising phosphate prices open up market for alternative

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Jungbunzlauer is repositioning its leavening agent GdL on the back of rocketing phosphate prices, which have made alternative ingredients more competitive.

The Swiss ingredients firm said that glucono-delta-lactone (GdL), which is used as a natural leavening acid in bakery products, was up to four times more expensive than common leavening phosphates such sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP).

However, over the last 18 months to two years, phosphate prices have shot up and now GdL is almost cost equal to SAPP, according to Raphael Singer, product manager for gluconates at Jungbunzlauer.

Singer told FoodNavigator.com that GDL cost between about two times the price of SAPP but bakers also need to use 50 per cent more GdL than SAPP to get the same quantity of carbon dioxide released.

This made the cost three to four times higher and meant that the product stayed in niches such as baking mixes for home use, refrigerated canned dough and deep frozen pizzas.

Now, Singer said: “Phosphate prices have more than doubled and almost tripled at their peak so GdL is almost cost equal.”

This was mainly due to a rapid increase in demand for fertiliser because of the hype over biofuels, which Singer said had an impact on the whole phosphoric acid and phosphates market.

He added that phosphate prices are expected to stay quite high over the next few years so Jungbunzlauer is promoting GdL more strongly.

The target markets are products such as muffins, cakes and pancakes that fit in the organic, natural, gluten free, sodium-reduced and aluminium-reduced categories.

Singer said: “We are not aiming to replace tens of thousands of tons of phosphate

“Our target is developing our GdL sales by a few thousand tons.”

Phosphates are commonly added to processed foods to increase water retention and improve texture in, for example, meats, cheeses, beverages as well as bakery goods.

Vignesh Pitchiah, research associate at Frost & Sullivan, told FoodNavigator.com that phosphorus and calcium used in food is sourced from Di Calcium Phosphate (DCP), which is also a key ingredient in the fertilizer industry.

Demand for DCP from this industry has “skyrocketed”​ recently and, as a result, prices rose more than 120 per cent in 2008 compared to 2007.

Promoting GdL

Jungbunzlauer is now highlighting the benefits it believes GdL has over phosphates.

It claims that GdL’s dough rate of reaction is slow to intermediate, so it can replace both fast and slow phosphates.

It also said the product has a “typical mild taste”​, which allows baked goods to “express their true natural flavour, while the typical soapy off-note caused by SAPP does not occur”.

Similarly shelf-life can be prolonged without a negative impact on taste.

GdL is allowed in organic products in the US, but it is not yet permitted in Europe.

Jungbunzlauer is also looking at alternatives for use in meat but it faces competition from Advanced Food Systems which has developed the Actobind clean-label ingredient system for completely or partially replacing sodium phosphate in meat products.

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