A first, Danisco moves into semi-carrageenan production

Related tags Carrageenan Seaweed

Leading ingredients firm Danisco heads deeper into the growing
semi-refined carrageenan market acquiring all the assets for
processing the ingredient from liquidated firm Scottish Scotcol.

Up until now the Danish firm had bought semi-refined carrageenan from the outside, but now a producer the move marks a further step towards Danisco's overarching aim to be a 'one-stop supplier'.

As a cheaper alternative to its refined sister, semi-refined carrageenan (PES) launched onto the market about 5 years ago - and used primarily in meat and dairy segments - is becoming increasingly popular with food makers eager to reduce costs.

"The PES type of carrageenan is increasing its share of the market, as well as taking market share away from the refined carrageenans,"​ Hans Henrik Hjorth, president Danisco Textural Ingredients told FoodNavigator.com.

Semi-refined powder contains more cellulose material than its refined, purified sister but is easier and cheaper to produce. In most applications, the semi-refined ingredient does not appear to make a great difference, said hydrocolloid market expert Denis Seisun​.

While crop shortages - notably corn, wheat and soy - and pressing demand are currently pushing up the prices of food ingredients, carrageenan prices remain constant, a reflection of the currently steady raw material source, seaweed.

But close attention will have to be paid in the near future as China - slowly exhausting home-sourced supplies - increasingly turns to the Phillippines, the primary source for the seaweed, to top up demand for carrageenans.

"In the spectrum of hydrocolloids, some are suffering and others are doing quite well - carrageenan is the middle,"​ Denis Seisun tells FoodNavigator.com.

"The semi-refined ingredient is cheaper to procure than its refined sister and processing conditions are largely less expensive,"​ commented Hjorth, adding that Danisco sources the raw material from Asia Pacific - China, The Philippines, Indonesia - then moves it on to the PES plant, situated near to Edinburgh, in Scotland.

While the Danish company bought the four year old PES production line from Scottish Scotcol, the building itself will be leased.

According to Hjorth the semi-refined carrageenan will also be used 'in-house' for other carrageenan types and in certain functional systems sold by the firm, such as ice cream stabilisers.

In the EU the food market has grown to use both refined - known as E407 on food labels - and semi-refined - labelled as E407a - carrageenans. In the US, there is no distinction for the food labels - the hydrocolloid is simply known as carrageenen.

According to Seisun, the semi-refined market is growing in size as developers build new applications. While hydrocolloid companies FMC, CP Kelco and Degussa dominate the refined market, Shemberg is the biggest player in semi-refined carrageenan, although the leaders in refined are now on board, added Seisun.

Hjorth declined to disclose any further plans that Danisco​ might harbour to build up its position in the semi-refined carrageenan market.

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