Hydrocolloid supplier TIC Gums has launched a product designed to help xanthan gum dissolve more easily in water.
The food scientists at TIC Gums have created TIC Pretested Pre-Hydrated Ticaxan Xanthan Rapid 3, which they say allows manufacturers to add xanthan gum and xanthan gum blends in water without them being troubled by lumps.
"This was never possible before," said business manager Greg Andon. "Pre-Hydrated Ticaxan Xanthan Rapid 3 has tremendous value to our customers, because so many food manufacturers use xanthan and are looking for easier ways to incorporate it into their process."
Xanthan gum is one of the most versatile gums and is a common ingredient in sauces, dressings and marinades. However, food processors have encountered difficulties trying to dissolve xanthan in water-based systems and therefore faced slower processing times.
"This new gum is also effective in eliminating excess powder in the air during formulation because xanthan is the dustiest of gums and our process creates a less-dusty particle," said Andon.
The hydrocolloid xanthan gum, a high molecular weight polysaccharide widely used in food applications from salad dressings to beverages, is produced by fermentation of the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris.
With a total market value in the range of $303 million, xanthan volumes are approximately 40-50 million tons per year, of which about 60 percent is used in the food and pharmaceutical market.
Growth rates for xanthan gum are currently coming in at the higher end - 5 percent - of the generally lacklustre growth figures in the food ingredients industry.
"Xanthan is still one of the fastest growing hydrocolloids. Its versatility and, now its low price, make it a hydrocolloid of choice," said Dennis Seisun from market analysts IMR International.
Last year both CP Kelco, the number one supplier and recently acquired by JM Huber, and Rhodia, now part of Danisco, announced a price hike for xanthan gum, but according to Seisun, as a result of the recent Cargill, Staley and now Danisco entries into the xanthan market, it will be difficult for any price increases to stick.
In the late fifties scientists at the US Department of Agriculture discovered that the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris found on cabbage plants produces a polysaccaride with functional properties. The hydrocolloid can be used as a rheology control agent in aqueous systems and as a stabiliser for emulsions and suspensions.
In 1980, the EU approved xanthan gum under the E-number 415, some 11 years after the FDA cleared the high molecular weight polysaccharide as a food additive for the US market.