BASF raises propionic acid prices again

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

BASF is bringing in another price increase for propionic acid, a food preservative, because increasing costs of raw materials mean the margins are unsatisfactory.

Propionic acid is a carboxylic acid used in the preservation of food and feedgrain, thanks to its anti-mould and anti-bacterial activity. It is also used for the production of pharmaceuticals, crop protection agents, solvents and plastics.

The chemical giant last increased its prices in August 2009, by €100 a tonne. The new increase is for the same reason, a BASF representative told FoodNavigator.com. The main raw materials of propionic acid are ethylene and naphtha.

The prices are being increased by €0.10 per kg for Europe, Africa and the Middle East – or €100 a tonne. For the US the increase is $0.07 per lb; and for Asia Pacific US$0.15 per kg.

The new prices come into effect immediately, or as soon as contracts allow.

BASF produces propionic acid at its Verbund sites in Ludwigshafen, Germany, and in Nanjing, China. The representative said the company does not communicate on production volumes, or how much of the acid is destined for use as a food preservative.

But Leatherhead Food Research estimated total propionic acid and its salts by the food industry in 2007 at around 38,000 tonnes, with a value of US$40m. It is used partly directly in foods and partly in mixtures, as sodium, calcium and potassium salts.

Calcium propionate, which has an anti-mould and some antibacterial activity, finds uses in bakery products like breads and pizza bases, as well as cold pack cheese and pie fillings.

Sodium propionate is also used as an antimicrobial in a wide range of foods, including baked goods, beverages, confectionery, puddings, jams and fillings and meat products.

In pharmaceutical products, propionic acid is used for synthesising d-ethyl ketone.

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