Penford Food Ingredients and CP Kelco have signed an agreement that grants Penford exclusive use of Kelco's Genu Plus carrageenan line for the US meat, poultry and seafood industry - evidence of the hydrocolloid industry's increasing willingness to collaborate externally in new product development.
The concept of "open innovation", including innovation with a competitor, is relatively new for the hydrocolloids industry, said IMR's Dennis Seisun.
"The CPK and Penford agreement is a good example of open innovation. It also represents a change in distribution policy," Seisun told FoodNavigator-USA.
Penford manufactures and markets ingredients for the processed food industry, while Kelco is a global producer of specialty hydrocolloids.
According to Penford, adding Genu Plus carrageenans to its line of starches will broaden its offering of natural and specialty ingredients for protein applications.
While such a collaboration between two companies may make economic sense, Seisun says the hydrocolloids industry previously remained relatively closed off to outside partners.
"Until five to ten years ago, hydrocolloid manufacturers were reluctant to use third party distribution networks," said Seisun. "They preferred a direct connection with the user of their hydrocolloid to better offer technical service and support."
Kelco, however, has placed its trust in Penford's application knowledge and technical sales support, while it will continue to focus on its strengths in technology.
Genu Plus carrageenans have established a position in the food industry as high-quality gelling and texturizing agents. Penford will in particular use Genu Plus in ingredient applications designed for rotisserie chicken, which is increasing looking for all-natural clean label products.
The firm says the technology is ideally suited for these poultry products because, when used as part of a pre-cooked solution it eliminates the problem of gel-pocketing.
"This is really the only solution we found for eliminating gel-pocketing, while still being an all-natural ingredient," Jeff Smith, vice president of business development with Penford Food Ingredients, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Smith says the demand for all natural ingredients that has been seen across the food industry has been very strong in the meat and poultry area.
"There's definitely been an increase on the consumer end for all-natural," he said. "Therefore processors need natural ingredients that can still accomplish the functionality."
In meat applications, Genu Plus allows for increased production yields and also makes the product more succulent.
Extracted from red seaweed, carrageenan is a hydrocolloid consisting mainly of the potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium sulfate esters of galactose, as well as 3.6-anhydro-galactose.
The world food hydrocolloid market is valued at $4.2bn, with pectin ($443mn), xanthan ($225mn) and MC/HPMC ($57mn) predicted to experience the fastest growth rate over the next five years (5.7 percent, 5.2 percent and 6.2 percent respectively).
At the same time, rotisserie chicken is a booming industry in the US as Smith says this product can offer two attributes that are increasingly driving consumer demand: nutrition and convenience.
The National Chicken Council estimates that in 2008, more than 750 million chickens will be sold as rotisserie ready-to-serve products in supermarkets, club stores and foodservice outlets.