New emulsifier an alternative to gum arabic

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

National Starch has introduced an organic beverage ingredient into
the US and Canadian market that it describes as "nature's perfect
emulsifier" and hopes will rival gum arabic.

The Q-Naturale emulsifier is for use in sparkling and new-age beverages such as herb-based drinks, iced tea and coffee, as well as fortified waters and juices. National Starch says it is a clean label product from the quillaja tree, with "excellent emulsification properties" including the ability to create high oil load emulsions. And the ingredients company claims the emulsifier has the potential to "free markets from price and supply-chain pressures related to gum arabic"​. Q-Naturale quillaja comes as a liquid that is said to be formulation friendly, which quickly hydrates and disperse. It can be used at economical, low usage levels and provides long-term cold temperature and pH stability. Dinah Diaz, marketing development manager of food emulsions and targeted delivery at National Starch, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: "You need to use very little and you get the same strong emulsification properties. "It also touches on a lot of good points in the market place because it is sustainable." "This is the beginning of our brand launch strategy. Next year it is going to go into spray dry flavors." ​She said these would be natural and sugar free and could be used by manufacturers of, for example, chewing gum. Diaz added: "If they used gum arabic they wouldn't be able to make a sugar free claim." ​Q-Naturale is FDA approved, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), and organic certified. National Starch has joined with Desert King International, which has a partnership agreement with the government of Chile to produce an organic and sustainable quillaja crop. Desert King is an established supplier of natural ingredients to the US food and beverage markets. Gum arabic ​ The supply of gum arabic, also known as acacia gum because it comes from Acacia trees in the gum belt of Africa, is variable due to political and climatic factors in the primary producing countries like Sudan and Nigeria and this has led to spikes in the price of the ingredient. Gum arabic is widely used by the food and beverage industry and the top producers (mainly Sudan) bring about 50,000 tonnes of the gum to the market each year. Attempts have been made to find an alternative that could be used as a thickener, adhesive, and stabilizer for food and beverage applications. One recent study from Malaysia, which was published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers​, suggested that replacing gum arabic with low levels of pectin can lead to more stable orange beverage emulsions. And United States Department of Agriculture scientists are continuing to expand the potential of a gum produced from corn fiber to replace gum arabic in beverages, with a new study pinpointing the emulsifying properties of the gum. The study, recently published online in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry​, highlighted its potential to eventually replace gum arabic as an emulsifying agent.

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