Desert King banks on plantations for sustainable supply of quillaja and yucca

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

Investing in quillaja and yucca plantations, rather than relying on wild harvests, will guarantee a more sustainable supply of these natural foaming agents, says international supplier Desert King. 
Yucca plantation
A yucca plantation. Copyright Desert King

Desert King wild harvests both plant extracts, sourcing the quillaja from Chile and the yucca from the Baja California area in Mexico, with manufacturing facilities in both countries, but the San Diego-headquartered company is currently investing in plantations for both.

“In the long term we know that we want to have a better, sustainable source for both. The work is continuing to enter into a bigger phase of plantation work.”

“Our intention is to continue to grow with the market,”​ he added.

Yucca schidigera and quillaja saponaria are both rich in saponins, natural surfactants that have multiple uses ranging from foaming agents to emulsifiers, wetting agents and cholesterol binders.

Both are used by food and drink manufacturers as a foaming agent in powder or liquid form. “They create the long-lasting foam on cocktail mixes, root beers and frozen carbonated beverages," ​said Kramer.

The quillaja tree grows only in Chile in the foothills of the Andean mountains and along the coast. Desert King extracts the active molecules using an aqueous extraction process that does not require felling the tree has been backed by the Chilean Ministry of Forestry.

As natural plant extracts, both ingredients can also be considered clean label, Kramer said, used to replace chemical-sounding propylene glycol alginates (PGAs) or hydrocolloids.

“They can hide under the natural flavouring part of the label but some people actually want to have quillaja and yucca listed. Some smaller users pride themselves on having a good, natural product in their formulation.”

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