CP Kelco cuts fat content

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Food processors looking to boost sales in reduced-fat fried foods
are currently in the sight of hydrocolloid supplier CP Kelco that
has adapted an existing oil barrier coating technology.

Looking to gain a slice of the potential market linked to consumer concerns over health, the firm - which holds four patents on oil barrier technology - said this week that its Slendid pectin and Kelcogel gellan gum products can apparently cut the fat and calorie levels by up to 50 per cent of fried and breaded foods by reducing the quantity of oil absorbed during frying.

"The end result is a crisp texture with less fat and fewer calories, as well as a more natural taste, texture and appearance,"​ said Dr. Akiva Gross, senior vice president, technology.

The future of the world's number one xanthan gum supplier is currently under discussion as the majority stakeholder, merchant bank Lehman Brothers, earlier this month announced it would sell its slice in the leading hydrocolloid company. Rumours afoot pitch the Lehman sale in the region of $1 billion.

With a 71.43 per cent majority share in the US-based maker of thickeners and additives, the sale of the Lehman stake in CP Kelco leaves the game open for current ingredients players looking to consolidate their position in the competitive hydrocolloid market.

In January this year the minority shareholder in CP Kelco, US chemicals firm Hercules, sold its three-year old 28.57 per cent chunk of the pie to emerging carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) player Huber, sparking speculation as to when Huber might take full control of CP Kelco.

As such, Huber, with ambitions in the hydrocolloid market, is a probable contender for the Lehman stake now on offer. Keen to build on the hydrocolloid business, Huber dramatically boosted its position in 2001 with the acquisition of Finnish company Noviant, the world's biggest producer of CMC with a 30 per cent slice of the world market.

Competing for the Lehman shares could be other top tier global suppliers of xanthan, pectin and carrageenan to include FMC Corp, acquisitive Irish firm Kerry Group, and Danish ingredients leader Danisco - which recently extended its xanthan gum position in the emerging Chinese market, linking up with one of the largest xanthan gum suppliers in China, the Henan Tianguan group. In addition, the Danish firm last month cleared the purchase of Rhodia food ingredients, to include a chunk of the xanthan gum market.

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