Growing affluence, changing demographics and rising health awareness among consumers in Asia lead to increasing demand for natural products and ingredients, as well as for fat-reduced and fat-free food products.
At the same time, consumers are more frequently opting for dietary supplements or functional food products to enhance their well-being. In addition, in many countries, vegetarians (vegans) account for a growing part of the population, which fuels the need for food solutions without animal-derived products.
For these reasons, the market for dietary supplements and novel food solutions is growing globally. With its wide portfolio of cyclodextrins, cysteine, hydroxytyrosol and solid resins for gumbase, WACKER offers solutions for the special demands and needs of these segments.
WACKER showcased its wide range of ingredients during the FiAsia show which ended in Bangkok in September. An interview with Dr Ulrike Fischer-Nagele, Head of Technical Service Nutrition, Wacker Chemie AG, offers interesting insights into various animal-free ingredients solutions for food and beverage manufacturers in Asia.
Dr Ulrike highlighted that there is a growing preference for food products ‘free from’ animal fats or ingredients. She said, “People don’t want to mix different origins of food, meaning if they want vegetarian (vegan) food stuffs, they don’t want hidden animal-origin ingredients or emulsifiers that are based on animal fats. We have Cavamax, a plant-based (oligosaccharide) ingredient which can also be Kosher and Halal.” This will make it easier for consumption to a broad consumer group, some of whom are restricted by religious or cultural (vegan) restrictions in their daily food diet.
In addition, Dr Ulrike emphasised that these emulsifiers or bio-fermented cyclodextrin offered by WACKER, can be combined with water and oil-based and can be applied in the production of mayonnaise or dressings amongst others. Dr Ulrike revealed that one of WACKER’s focus strategies in Asia is its use in coconut milk powder, which is a product of growing popularity in this region.
Oligosaccharide as an emulsifier can replace animal-based raw material like sodium casseinate. The advantage of Cavamax is its ability to cover-up or mask an unpleasant taste, off-flavors or bitter notes, and offer pure plain taste of the product. Cavamax® W6 is a purely vegetarian-grade alternative to caseinate in coconut milk powders.
Cavamax® W6 also improves the stability of the coconut milk made from powder and water and gives the milk its creamy mouthfeel. Additionally, the product is able to provide better protection against the volatile coconut aromas during spray drying.
A taste test was also conducted during Fi Asia show on grapefruit juice, one with cavamax added and the other without. It was found that the one with cavamax has a very natural, healthy taste against the sharp, bitter unbalanced taste of the other. As such, cavamax offers a balanced taste profile while at the same time cover-up the negative off-flavor and off-taste.
WACKER sees huge potential for its ingredients in the Asian market, and highlighted the growing trend in favour of convenience foods, a segment which it is targeting as well. Dr Ulrike mentioned that the Asian market is different from other markets as it has its own unique expectations in terms of taste and consistency. She highlighted Japan and China as markets with 'fancy' foods and in Japan, the growing popularity of food in pouches (RTE meals) as consumers have less time to prepare their meals. "Consumers want convenience but not fast food. They want quick but healthy food with fiber-enrichment....this is where Cavamax W6 can come in as it is recognised by EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) for its fiber claim, and lowering the glycaemic index."
WACKER is looking to incorporate fiber functionality and positive aspects of Cavamax into food and beverages, and Asian noodles. Cavamax can also be applied in non-carbonated beverages like juices.
In October, WACKER also announced the opening of a representative office in Myanmar, its 7th office in South-east Asia as part of its plan to strengthen its presence in the region. WACKER is a globally active chemical company with some 13,450 employees and annual sales of around US$5.43 billion in 2016.
Cyclodextrins offer a plant-derived and cholesterol-free alternative with its ring-shaped sugar molecules that WACKER produces enzymatically from plant-based raw materials such as corn or potatoes. Thanks to their special structure, they can stabilize oil-in-water emulsions and thus replace conventional animal-derived emulsifiers, e.g. egg yolk in mayonnaise and salad dressings or caseinate (milk protein) in instant coconut milk powder.