How to cut costs, keep the texture

KANSAS CITY – Locust bean gum (LBG) can improve product texture in a number of ways, but soaring prices are pushing formulators to look for alternatives, including blends of citrus fibers and gums.

“The strength of LBG is in its functionality,” said Kyle Bailey, technical sales director for CP Kelco, Atlanta. “It’s a very versatile ingredient that thickens, adds mouthfeel and helps stabilize. It can be used in a range of products as diverse as baked goods, baby foods, dairy products such as ice cream, yogurt and cream cheese, and plant-based dairy alternatives, including especially alternative drinks to dairy products.

LBG prices started rising steadily three years ago and then sharply over the past three months, Bailey said.

“What we found is that the price of LBG crude is not always predictable for several reasons, including unstable market conditions as well as speculation despite the volume, and traders who use their seed stock as source of fiber for a secondary value stream, “he said.

The price of LBG has increased this year to about $ 16 a pound from $ 8 a pound, said Siva Annanmar, senior manager, business development for NuTek Natural Ingredients, St. Louis Park, Minn. LBG is obtained from carob trees cultivated mainly around the Mediterranean. Wed.

“Carob trees take almost 10 years to produce, and around 10 to 15 years ago, many farmers turned to agricultural activities other than carob trees, which resulted in the current situation,” he said. said Mr. Annanmar. “Farmers have started to come back to LBG, and it will take another four to five years to get back to normal. “

A thickening agent, LBG is useful in applications such as salad dressings, sauces, dairy products such as ice cream and cream cheese, and fruit preparations with toppings are an example, a-t- he declares.

“It’s achieved with minimal processing and fits the trend for natural, clean labels very well,” Mr. Annanmar said. “It generally retards the growth of crystals (ice or sugar) but at the same time tends to promote phase separation. Hence, it is used together with other gum such as guar gum, carrageenan, pectin, etc.

Citrus fiber as an alternative

Reducing or replacing LBG in formulations may involve mixtures of gums, citrus fiber ingredients, and tamarind seed gum.

Fiberstar, Inc., River Falls, Wisconsin, offers Citri-Fi citrus fiber which has been shown to be particularly effective in alternatives to ice cream and plant-based milk, said Jennifer Stephens, vice president of the marketing.

“This natural ingredient is produced from the citrus juice industry and is made using a process free from chemical modifications,” she said. “The high water retention and emulsification properties create a smooth texture while minimizing ice crystals, which tend to form during freeze / thaw cycles. As a result, Citri-Fi helps eliminate the feeling of sand in the mouth associated with the formation of ice crystals. Citri-Fi can be used alone versus a stabilizer blend to clean ice cream label statements at low usage levels (

She called LBG a “workhorse” in the category of plant-based milk substitutes.

“At the same time, natural ingredients like Citri-Fi can create own-brand herbal milks without all of the extra stabilizers,” Ms. Stephens said. “Due to the fiber composition of Citri-Fi, high shear conditions such as homogenization open up the fiber to create an even higher surface area. As a result, this natural citrus fiber at low levels of use – 0.1% to 0.4% – produces a full body sensation in plant-based milks such as almond, walnut. coconut and oats.

Mr. Bailey recommended gum blends in alternative dairy drinks.

“Formulators often use a combination of gellan gum and locust bean gum in alternative beverages to dairy products to achieve a consistent suspension of nutrients such as protein and calcium with a desirable viscosity, similar to that of a dairy product and a silky feel in the mouth during consumption, ”he said. “CP Kelco has just introduced Kelcogel DFA gellan gum, a dual-purpose solution that offers both excellent suspension and desirable viscosity. It can help formulators reduce levels of gellan and locust bean gum usage, or replace LBG entirely, which can lower costs without compromising quality. For brands looking for a simpler product label, this is a useful, nature-based option.

CP Kelco also offers Nutrava citrus fibers made from sustainably sourced citrus peels. The ingredient does not require an E number in Europe, Mr. Bailey said.

“It supports dietary fiber intake and can promote stability, suspension, body, and texture in a variety of applications, including condiments, dressings, soups, baked foods, fruit-flavored drinks, dairy-based, plant-based, spoon-based drinkable yogurt and drinkable yoghurt alternatives, ”he said. “In alternative drinks to dairy products, it can be used alone or in combination with Kelcogel gellan gum. “

Citrus Extracts LLC, Fort Pierce, Fla., Offers CitraFiber, a citrus fiber powder that replaces starches, gums, carrageenan, pectin, allergens, hydrogenated fats, phosphates, emulsifiers, and chemical stabilizers. After hydration, it is an emulsifier. Besides plant-based dairy products, CitraFiber will also work in gluten-free baked foods, plant-based meat substitutes, sauces, and marinades.

Other gums such as tara gum, guar gum and carrageenan have been shown to reduce or replace LBG, Mr. Annanmar said.

“One of the new tools in the Formulators’ Toolkit is Tamarind Seed Gum, which works like LBG and can be used to successfully replace LBG,” he said.

Tamarind seed gum has a smooth flow and is very tolerant of acid, heat and salt.

“It suppresses the growth of ice crystals by forming a gel-like network in a freeze-thaw cycle, making it an excellent choice to replace LBG in dairy and alternative ice cream and frozen desserts,” said said Mr. Annanmar. “Tamarind seed gum is also known to delay starch retrogradation and dramatically improves the appearance, bulk and storage properties of gluten-free breads. “

He added that the ability of tamarind seed gum to stabilize emulsions makes it versatile for a variety of applications. The ingredient could be used alone or in combination with other gums, including locust bean gum.

Locust bean gum provides viscosity and suspension in ice cream while improving the overall texture of the product by improving the creamy mouthfeel and reducing the growth of ice crystals, said Matthew Berliner, vice president of ice cream. ‘ISC Gums, Edison, NJ.

“Guar gum can be added to replace part of the LBG for a cost effective solution,” he said. “Our Silk 200 is a bespoke blend of guar and LBG that will provide great functionality in ice cream and frozen desserts. Another great gum in our toolkit is karaya gum, which provides water retention and freeze / thaw stability, especially when used in combination with a galactomannan like guar gum. ISC is currently working on the development of a karaya gum / guar gum combination that will give a velvety texture and excellent melting properties to ice cream and other frozen products.

Other ways to cut costs

Locust bean gum isn’t the only hydrocolloid to increase its price this year, according to a Nov. 11 e-newsletter titled “Hydrocolleague Tidbits” from IMR International, a hydrocolloid market research and advisory company based in San Diego. The price of guar gum has doubled, supply has tightened for gellan and alginates, and “classic grade” starches are hard to come by, according to the newsletter.

“As in any industry, gum prices have risen at least 10% to 20% due to supply chain challenges from COVID,” Annanmar said. “Tara gum, which formulators were looking for to replace LBG, is also limited initially and its prices have increased dramatically. The unfortunate situation with LBG is that it is plagued by crop shortages, which pushes up prices more than the supply constraints linked to COVID. “

The selection of ingredients can alleviate some of the problems caused by high prices.

“Multifunctional ingredients are a way to solve many formulation problems, simplify your product labeling and often save money,” Bailey said.

CP Kelco’s Genu Pectin YM-FP-2100 has been shown to replace the use of starch in fruit drink yogurt formulations, he said. It stabilizes over shelf life, provides viscosity, protects protein, and adds a creamy mouthfeel, he added.

“Our tests show a potentially 50% lower cost of use than other dual-function pectins, due to a usage level of 1% instead of the usual usage level of 2-3%, thus than broad BRIX compatibility, ”said Mr. Bailey. noted.

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