Growth and added-value characterise additives market

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

Emulsifiers, enzymes and hydrocolloids have led growth in the food additives sector over the last five years, according to a new report from Leatherhead, while growth in functional food ingredients is significant.

In the 4th edition of its report Key Players in the Global Additives Industry​, UK-based Leatherhead estimates that the global food additives market was worth US$25.44bn in 2009, up more than 11 per cent on its 2005 value.

Emulsifiers, hydrocolloids and enzymes are all identified as being on the rise, with double-digit growth over this period. Hydrocolloids now make up 17 per cent of the market, and highly versatile hydrocolloids like gelatine and pectin, used the world over and appreciated for their versatility, are the fastest growing. New opportunities have also arisen from health and wellness trends, especially to make up for the reduction of fat, sugar and salt in foods.

Emulsifiers make up 7 per cent of the market and fat replacers have proven particularly successful. The most-used emulsifier is lecithin, which can also be used in combination with other soy-derived ingredients.

Enzymes are included under ‘other’, a category with a 15 per cent share. Growth is primarily driven by new products for the bakery and brewing industries, and demand is high from Asia Pacific. On the other hand, Leatherhead recognises that the GM origin of most enzymes is a potential threat to the industry due to negative consumer perceptions.

Natural and health trends

The flavours sector remains the industry’s largest, however, with global sales over $6.77bn accounting for 27 per cent of the category.

In both flavours and colours (the latter representing 5 per cent of category) growth rates for natural have far outstripped those for synthetic and artificial alternatives. This reflects end-used perspectives, as there has been a major drive towards more natural food and foods with added health benefits.

Indeed, ingredients for functional foods that are said to contribute to better health, and dietary supplement, were worth some $5.52bn in 2009, with soy proteins and isoflavones, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and prebiotics proving the biggest hitters.


The report identifies the major players in the food ingredients arena. Cargill occupies the top spot by sales, followed by BASF and Archer Daniel Midland, although sales for the latter two include non-additive products. Associated British Foods and Ajinomoto complete the top-5.

Most companies specialise in a relatively narrow store of food additives – although the larger agrifoods companies have activities across many areas and are seen as an exception.

Leatherhead notes a relatively high level of merger and acquisition activity in recent years, especially as some companies have wanted to carve off commodity activities and focus instead on higher value-added and specialty ingredients.

Just last month two major deals were announced: BASF is buying Cognis for €1.3bn, and Corn Products International is buying National Starch for $3.1bn.

More information on Leatherhead’s new report Key Players in the Global Additives Industry ​is available from​.

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