DuPont champions alternative hydrocolloids as guar replacers

Food formulators - searching for guar gum replacers

Amid sky-high prices and shortages of guar gum driven by an unprecedented surge in demand, food formulators have renewed focus on finding replacers and DuPont is championing use of alternative hydrocolloids.

A recent IMR International report published by consultant, Dennis Seisun, noted that the guar gum situation remains critical for food buyers, with tight supplies and high prices set to continue until at least the end of 2012, probably beyond.

IMR pegged guar gum prices at close to $16 per kilogram in its latest report, a value Seisun said is likely to surge further.

Seisun said that as a result food formulators are partially replacing guar with blends, completely replacing the thickener with another hydrocolloid or eliminating the use of hydrocolloids entirely.

Niels Thestrup, VP, BU Hydrocolloids, at DuPont Nutrition & Health, said that the company’s large portfolio of hydrocolloids includes the closest guar gum alternatives such as locust bean, cellulose and xanthan gum.

The cellulose gum targets bakery applications, he said, and the xanthan gums can be used for reduced guar in culinary applications.

Asked if alternative hydrocolloids are the best replacement solution, he said, “it will depend upon applications. As with any formulation changes, in some cases rheology experts may be able to detect small differences,” but DuPont’s guar gum replacement solutions are each approved by a sensory panel.

Chewing over the same problem

Euromonitor, in its September 2011 review of guar gum supply challenges, also identified that using other ingredients, including alternative hydrocolloids like locust bean gum or xanthan gum or starch derivatives is one guar gum replacement solution.

Focus on using alternative hydrocolloids has been eyed up by wider industry, according to Seisun, who touted tara gum and locust bean gum as the most credible replacers.

Iranian researchers also identified a gum derived from cress seed that could offer manufacturers an thickening alternative in food formulations, in the journalFood Hydrocolloids.

Some companies however have worked to develop new ingredients and in October 2011, US-based company TIC Gums launched a guar gum substitute formula for use in bakery applications.

The company said that internal tests had shown its Ticaloid GR 5420 to produce similar results to guar, including equivalent batter viscosity and dough texture.

The food industry has faced a constant problem with guar gum supply since late 2010, as it is now heavily used in the oil and gas industry for the process of fracking, causing demand and price surges, but recently, with news that the situation is not set to let up manufacturers have been heavily focused on finding reliable alternatives.

Varied application area focus

Elisa Hjortkjær Jørgensen, global product manager, BU Systems, at DuPont Nutrition & Health, said that DuPont’s focus so far has been on application areas for frozen desserts, dairy, culinary, meat and bakery.

“We now have a series of guar gum alternatives ready for our customers to assist them in reacting fast in the market place, reducing cost and differentiating themselves,” Jørgensen said.

She said that due to such a broad hydrocolloids range, the company has a large tool-box to tailor solutions to customer needs, and this differentiates DuPont from other companies.

Thestrup said that DuPont has had, “a high focus ondeveloping specific solutions for replacing guar in various applications over the last 9-12 months.”

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