A plant-based, natural exudate harvested from wild Sterculia trees that grow mainly in Mali, Senegal and India, karaya gum can be used as a bulking agent, flavour emulsifier and stabiliser, with a number of functionalities such as water retention and suspending properties
Marketing manager Violaine Fauvarque told FoodNavigator that food industry uptake of karaya gum has previously been held back by “a bacteriology issue” but Alland & Robert developed a flash heating method which overcame this issue and is an effective alternative to chemical decontamination of the gum.
“We have been selling karaya gum for a very long time, but this ingredient has been almost only sold to pharmaceutical companies so far.
“As Alland & Robert is growing, we are also diversifying from acacia gum, and so we are focusing on other natural plant exudates that we are experts on. Karaya gum is the perfect candidate.”
Alland & Robert is marketing it as a clean label replacement for gums of microbial origin, such as xanthan or gellan gum, in certain applications.
“For manufacturers who are looking for natural alternatives, it’s a great choice. It’s also is much cheaper than gellan gum. Mostly it can be for plant-based milks, such as almond or soy milk, and savoury sauces and seasonings that are emulsified – dressings for example,” said Fauvarque.
Manufacturers can use the exudate, which comes in powdered form that is soluble in liquid, as a like-for-like replacement for gellan or xanthan in most recipes, depending on the product’s pH level and other ingredients.
Listed as E 416 in Europe, it can be used in a range of food applications such as ice cream, desserts and sauces while its functional stability in frozen and thawed products mean it can be used in chilled or frozen ready-to-eat meals that are then heated up in microwaves.
As a highly soluble fibre, it has a satiating effect and can be used in weight-loss products.
It shows a good viscosity synergy when used with other hydrocolloids, such as locust bean gum, the firm said.
It is more expensive that acacia gum, which Alland & Robert also supplies, Fauvarque said, but has different applications. “Karaya gum is mostly for texturing needs, when acacia gum has multiple functional properties,” she said.