FMC Biopolymer raises carrageenan and MCC prices on tight supplies

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Seaweed

FMC Biopolymer has said it intends to raise prices of its microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) and carrageenan-based products by up to 15 percent due to continued supply/demand imbalance for raw materials.

Explaining the factors behind the move, the Philadelphia-based company cited sustained global demand for the specialty pulps used to make MCC; low pulp inventories; and high prices for warm and cold water seaweeds used to make carrageenan as demand continues to outstrip supply. The price rises are due to take effect from November 29, the company said.

“FMC BioPolymer continues to dedicate significant resources to identify and implement productivity improvement programs to mitigate the impact of rising cost,”​ the company said in a statement.

Carrageenan, a gum used for texture and viscosity in food products, is extracted from seaweed largely sourced from the Philippines and Indonesia. The use of carrageenan for food has grown in industrialized countries even during the recession, but demand has also grown rapidly in developing countries on the back of growing demand for convenience foods.

MCC, meanwhile, is a particularly useful ingredient for low-fat dairy products, such as low-fat ice cream. To reduce fat content and cut costs, manufacturers remove solids, and MCC can be added to restore a desirable texture.

MCC can also be used in batters and coatings to improve cling and reduce sogginess; confectionery to control moisture absorption; salad dressings to enhance mouthfeel and stabilize emulsions; and sauces, to aid in stability.

FMC BioPolymer did not specify the reasons for growth in demand for MCC and carrageenan, but it is thought that it is a combination of factors, including fat reduction in food products and increased demand for processed foods from emerging economies.

FMC BioPolymer is a key figure in the market for MCC and carrageenan, as well as alginate for the food, pharmaceutical and industrial markets. The company has plants in the United States, Ireland, Norway and the Philippines.

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