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Trends > Natural claims

Food makers turn to natural antioxidant blends to manage price spikes

By Caroline Scott-Thomas , 14-Dec-2012

Consumer preference for 'natural' foods has driven the market
Consumer preference for 'natural' foods has driven the market

Food manufacturers looking to extend shelf life with natural antioxidants have started using blended ingredients in an effort to deal with spiralling raw material costs, according to Frost & Sullivan.

European demand for natural antioxidants for shelf life extension has boomed in recent years, and revenues for natural varieties are set to outstrip those from synthetic equivalents on the back of consumer demand for natural ingredients, the market researcher said. It predicts the European market for shelf life extension food additives to more than double from 2011 levels by 2018, from $103.6m (about €79m) to $246.1m (€188m).

However, raw material supply is tight and commodity prices are on the rise, particularly for mixed tocopherols (vitamin E). Most often sourced from vegetable oils, changing global diets with increased oil and fat demand, and biodiesel production have diverted oils toward other markets.

"Naturally derived antioxidants are experiencing a huge rise in price," said Frost & Sullivan chemicals, materials and foods research analyst Ashwin Raj Ravinder. "As a result, the trend of blending different antioxidants is gaining appeal."

This may involve blending mixed tocopherols with another popular natural antioxidant, rosemary extract – but other companies are forgoing the all-natural designation and blending vitamin E and/or herbal extracts with synthetic antioxidants, such as ascorbyl palmitate.

Blending produces a less expensive product without compromising efficacy. However, consumer perception that natural products are healthier has driven the shift toward natural antioxidants over synthetic, and the preference for natural products is likely to continue, according to the market analyst.

"Vertical integration will be crucial to overcoming challenges related to the dearth in raw materials," Ravinder said. "Strategic partnerships and alliances with raw material suppliers too are vital to gain market share, especially in the natural shelf life extension food additives market."

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