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Ashland says new cellulose gums could provide guar gum alternatives

By Caroline Scott-Thomas, 08-Feb-2012

Related topics: Emulsifiers, stabilizers, hydrocolloids, Sustainable sourcing, Markets

Ashland Specialty Ingredients has introduced two new cellulose gum products to provide alternatives to guar gum, for which the food industry has seen tight supply and higher prices since late 2010.

The two cellulose gum products – Aquacel GSA and Aquacel GSH – are intended to either entirely replace or supplement guar gum. The company, a unit of Ashland, Inc., said the gums could provide cost-effective alternatives for beverage, bakery and dairy applications, at a time when guar gum prices are particularly volatile for the food and beverage industries.

New product leader, Nutrition Specialties at Ashland, Laurie Kronenberg said: “Volatility in guar availability and pricing has left food manufacturers scrambling for a replacement. In the US, guar gums are being used in the oil and gas industry for lubrication. Using guar in this manner is not new, but the recent surge in horizontal drilling technology has increased the demand for guar gum significantly.”

A recent IMR International report, published by industry consultant Dennis Seisun, said guar gum supply remained critical for the food industry, as suppliers were prioritizing oilfield service companies.

“Food buyers have been quoted prices around US$10/kg and even then volumes are not available to fulfill all requirements,” he reported, adding that there is currently no replacement for guar gum in the hydraulic fracking sector.

Ashland’s new cellulose gums have been developed to work together with guar to provide higher viscosity in liquid phase, moisture holding, and fast hydration development, the company said. It claims that guar gum-to-cellulose gum ratios could range from 80:20 to 40:60, providing flexibility when adding cellulose gum and high viscosity across a range of ratios.

“Less dosing means less guar is needed during this supply shortage and that there is a cost-effective alternative to escalating prices of guar,” Kronenberg said.

Guar gum is used in a variety of products, from specialty drinks, to dried processed food, canned foods, bakery, noodles and dairy products, and manufacturers are increasingly looking for innovative ingredient solutions to reduce their dependence on guar gum supply.