Humans evolved from marine organisms millions of years ago, and are still very much attached to their roots, that caters to their ever-demanding”needs”. The vast potential of the richness of marine world has actually taken care of the daily dietary needs of human beings, on a daily basis… this report is about exploring one such potential!
The Marine ecosystem is dynamic and complex with a huge potential beyond human comprehension. This ecosystem is one of the most productive bio-diversities providing a variety of helpful resources, the applications of which go beyond basic dietary requirements. Carrageenan or carrageenins – a favorite natural food additive – is extracted from the red algae species (chiefly Kappaphycus and Eucheuma spinosum) known for its broad application spectrum in the food & beverage market.
Carrageenan is defined as a family of linear sulfated polysaccharides (carbohydrates) extracted from red edible seaweeds. It’s a colloidal substance obtained from a purplish-brown, cartilaginous seaweed, primarily used as an emulsifying and stabilizing ingredient in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
What are the market sentiments for Carrageenan?
A report by a market research company estimated that the global carrageenan market value at USD 762.35 million in 2016. Carrageenan has around 13.3% share of the global food & drink hydrocolloids market.
Now, natural ingredients account for one-third of the complete food & beverage marketplace. There’s an increasing demand observed globally, for organic additives in processed foods to satisfy the clean label requirement. This particular trend has been a crucial driver for the overall carrageenan market, as it is recognized by various regulatory bodies’ world over as a non-synthetic food additive.
Synthetic (artificial) additives are cheaper, easily available and efficient in function, and thus, they are preferred over natural additives by food manufacturers. Nonetheless, the growing health-consciousness connected with economic empowerment has allowed consumers to go for natural alternatives although they are costly.
There are three main types of carrageenan: kappa, iota, and lambda, based on elemental differences that are commercially employed. The widely prevalent type in the market is the kappa, which is being increasingly used in the food industry, where it serves as a bodying agent, stabilizer, and emulsifier in dairy and meat products.
There are three important application areas of carrageenan: pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics. The food sector leads the market with applications in dairy, meat, beverages, etc.. There are three most important functional roles exhibited by carrageenan as a food additive: Firstly, it’s widely employed as a thickening agent, particularly in low-carb or no-fat foods, such as cottage cheese or sour cream, and as a substitute for fat. Carrageenan thickens foods making them creamier, with a fuller flavor.
The next important functional role of carrageenan is that of being used as a stabilizing agent for drinks, like chocolate milk or shakes, which separate if they are not shaken. Carrageenan is also used as a gelling agent, particularly in dairy and confectionery products, to allow them to remain firm for longer and retain their shape.
Regionally, Asia-Pacific and Europe are considered as the primary markets for carrageenan because of the increasing get more for processed meat and food products in Asia-Pacific and the high preference given by Europeans to dairy products, respectively. Moreover, Asia-Pacific is poised to dominate the worldwide market for carrageenan with a lion-share by 2022, owing to the high cultivation rate of carrageenan generating seaweeds and reduced cost of labor.
Main Hurdles for the Economy – Carrageenan as a food additive, faced a significant setback recently in america, where many food makers decided to stop using it as a food additive, especially in infant formulas owing to its carcinogenic potential.
In some animal studies, the additive has been linked to destructive gastrointestinal issues, including inflammatory bowel disease and possibly even tumor production. Thus, the related safety concern among the consumers is restricting the development of the global carrageenan marketplace.
Way Ahead: The growth trajectory of the carrageenan market is expected to be moderate in the not too distant future, if not high, as the available choices are not as effective as carrageenan, particularly in the meat and dairy industries. Carrageenan exhibits excellent ability to bind with the syneresis control is important in processed meats.
The principal regulatory agencies of the world (US FDA, FAO/WHO JECFA, EU EFSA, etc.) continue to approve the use of carrageenan as a food additive due to its natural source, in addition to its extensive, well-established, and safety profile, which is evident from its decade-long application. The Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has concluded that the use of food-grade carrageenan in baby formula, at concentrations up to 1,000 mg per liter, is”not of concern”
Thus, a more pro-active approach in using this food additive, by maintaining a safety margin by manifold, coupled with a clean label pledge, will pave the way for its sustainable market growth.