Sports drink stabilizer alternative to gum arabic

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gum arabic, Acacia

Cargill has introduced a new starch-based stabilizer for use in sports drinks as a possible replacement to gum arabic – an ingredient susceptible to supply and cost issues.

The supply of gum arabic, also known as acacia gum as it comes from acacia trees in the gum belt of Africa, is variable due to climatic factors and ongoing political unrest in the countries where it is sourced, such as Sudan and Nigeria. This has led to spikes in the price of the ingredient. Approximately 45,000 tonnes of gum arabic is brought to the market for food use each year, with more than 80 per cent of that coming from Sudan.

Cargill’s new EmulTru starch ingredient for beverage emulsions is made from waxy corn, and the company says it has similar functionality to gum arabic, but with a cost saving of about 25 percent. Like gum arabic, its purpose is to provide consistency in sports drinks, in terms of color, cloudiness and flavor.

Technical manager, fruit and beverages, at Cargill Texturizing Solutions Wen-Juin Shieh said: “Instability and uncertainty around one key ingredient in many sports drinks, gum arabic, threatens to cut into the profits of beverage manufacturers. EmulTru starch offers a true replacement for gum arabic, and can help our customers manage ingredient pricing and supply chain-related risks."

Cargill said EmulTru provides several benefits for manufacturers looking for an alternative to gum arabic, including longer emulsion stability, a lower usage level that does not require pre-hydration, and that it remains liquid in cold storage conditions.

According to data from the Beverage Marketing Corporation, following a long period of growth, sports drinks sales in volume terms fell by 12.3 percent in the United States last year, compared to a 3.1 percent fall for the soft drinks market as a whole.

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