Enzymes gain importance in food processing says report

The economic slowdown saw food enzymes successfully positioned as cost savers and process efficiency improvers, and this is set to continue as the economy recovers, according to a new report.

The report, European Market for Enzymes in Food Application, said that better cost economies and increased R&D efforts should continue to attract new applications, such as interesterification for the reduction of trans fats and as 'meat glue' (transglutaminases).

It added that while the increased use of enzymes in applications such as fruit and beverage processing and wine making could vitalize the market, the future of enzymes in food applications depends on their acceptance as process aids that provide better cost economies for food manufacturers.

According to the report’s author, Frost & Sullivan senior research analyst Dr Kaushik Ramakrishnan Shankar, the food enzyme market earned revenues of $407.5 million in 2009 and will reach $501 million by 2016. The company said it studied application segments including starch and sugar processing, bakery, dairy, brewing, wine making, and fruit and beverage processing.

Dr Shankar said that food producers cannot underestimate the importance of reducing manufacturing costs, and participants must clearly communicate the advantages of using enzymes. In addition to offering higher product quality and lower manufacturing costs, enzymes can reduce waste production and energy consumption by up to 50 per cent, he added.

"Better chemical selectivity and higher specificity result in numerous commercial benefits, including higher-quality products, fewer side reactions and harmful by-products, easier separation of products and less pollution - all of which translate into lower cost for end users," he said.

He warned though that, despite cost-cutting measures, enzyme manufacturers must still contend with considerable price pressure in most application segments. For example, starch- and sugar-processing enzymes have become commoditised due to buyers' greater negotiating power. Apart from commoditisation, a competitive marketplace also intensifies price pressures, as in the case of bakery enzymes, a densely populated segment.

Manufacturers can use novel materials and methods, such as cheaper and non-traditional carbon and nitrogen sources to reduce their production costs, he said, but they should also invest in R&D to distinguish themselves in the market. In addition, strong distribution partnerships with other companies will help manufacturers entrench themselves in the market.

"Strategic relationships between manufacturers should help synergise company strengths while overcoming individual weaknesses," Dr Kaushik concluded. "Such alliances have been successful for the largest companies operating in this segment, and could be replicated by other participants."

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