“Efforts to replace it are in full swing now …” Locust bean gum prices hit record highs


Dennis Seisun, Founder of Hydrocolloid Market Research and Consulting Company IMR Internationaland editor of Quarterly review of dietary hydrocolloids,told FoodNavigator-USA:

“Prices are now well over $ 60 / kg, if they can be found. Quotes, if you can get them, are valid for 24 hours or less. Some sellers are actually waiting for a response on the spot.

“The price is increasing sharply, almost exponentially”

The problem has been around for some time given the peculiarities of the carob supply chain (it takes years for trees to become productive, while attempts to establish new plantations have yielded mixed results) and a lack of success. constant depletion of stocks, which means that there is “Practically no raw material carried over from one year to the next”, said Seisun.

A recent surge in demand for herbal drinks – where locust bean gum is frequently used along with gellan gum to stabilize products and improve mouthfeel – has also compounded the problem, he added.

“Locust bean gum has undergone drastic cycles several times in the past. The closest to this drastic [situation] was in 1994, but it’s much worse. The [latest] harvest will not arrive until later this year, but indications are average, so they are unlikely to change the current tense situation much, if at all. “

Nesha Zalesny, Technical Consultant at IMR International, added: “Last year the price was less than half of the current price, and five years ago it was one-fifth of the current price. The price is increasing sharply, almost exponentially.

In a recent market update On its website, Swiss manufacturer Unipektin Ingredients said the locust bean gum market has grown to “”increasingly irrational and speculative. He added : “Larger contracts of several hundred tonnes, which were normal, are impossible to conclude at the present time. Prices… have gone up every week, sometimes even every day, for the past two months. “

“The price of tara gum has also skyrocketed”

When asked why growers haven’t just planted more trees given that demand has been on the rise for years, Zalesny said: “It would seem that with seed prices as they are – they have increased tenfold in the last three to five years – one would think that people would be more interested in setting up infrastructure and starting a plantation. . But it doesn’t seem to be that easy.

Just switch to tara gum – which can be used “almost like a drop“Replacing locust bean gum in some applications – is not the answer, meanwhile, as tara gum supplies are also limited,” Zalesny said.

“The price of tara gum has also skyrocketed, the harvest is even smaller, and the new plantings have not been as productive as the wild ones.”

So what’s the prognosis?

“Honestly, I don’t think the long-term prognosis is as good as some new plantations in Australia, I have not heard of any other planting started, so no new volumes are posted to my knowledge and the demand is still extremely high.

Locust bean gum is used in several plant-based dairy alternatives. Pic credits Danone North America, Ben & Jerrys (Unilever) and Oatly

Locust bean gum – also known as locust bean gum – is extracted from the seeds of the carob tree, with producers concentrated in Spain (5 producers), Portugal (2), Morocco (2) and Italy (1) , according to the IFF.

Used in everything from almond milk ice cream, frozen desserts, cream cheese and fruit fillings as a stabilizing and thickening agent, locust bean gum is popular with formulators in because of its technical properties, its own flavor and its friendly name.

In Insight’s LabelUS Product Database of approximately 430,000 food and beverage products, 11,688 products contain the ingredient “Locust Bean Gum” and 384 products contain the ingredient “Carob Gum”.

The majority of products can be found in the frozen products (ice cream and frozen desserts), dairy products (cottage cheese, Greek yogurt) and bakery shelves.

FIF: The challenge is, it’s such a fantastic ingredient ‘

Linda Dunning, Systems Business Development Manager at IFF (which became the leading player in the locust bean gum market earlier this year following its merger with DuPont’s Nutrition & Biosciences business), added: “I expect we will continue to see higher prices than ever before.

“It takes about seven years to get your first production and about 15 years before the carob trees produce at a really useful level.”

Since things are unlikely to improve much on the supply side, at least in the near term, IFF is helping many clients explore ways to reduce or eliminate locust bean gum, said Dunning.

Philadelphia Cream Cheese contains locust bean gum, which helps strengthen the body and prevents syneresis. Photo credit: Kraft Heinz

“The challenge is, it’s such a fantastic ingredient, what I love about locust bean gum is that it provides what I call a ‘clean’ viscosity with no ‘snotty’ texture, it’s very. smooth and gives you a clean flavor release. “

In ice creams and frozen desserts, it is particularly effective in preventing the formation of ice crystals and imparting viscosity, while in herbal drinks, for example, it is often combined with gellan gum, which helps suspend protein in solution, while locust bean gum improves mouthfeel.

“Now that we are in this situation [with rising prices and limited supplies], our customers look carefully at the risks and costs of keeping it but also at the cost of removing it [changing formulations and labels is a hassle, while consumer perceptions of clean label are also a factor], said Dunning.

But with the way we see the market today, we encourage our clients to look at the long term.

The clean label hierarchy for gums and hydrocolloids

So what are the alternatives?

In milks and other plant-based drinks, she said, pectin can be used, “in addition, we have mixtures of gellan and xanthan gum which work very well. However, some people don’t want xanthan gum in their formulations so it gets really very specific based on customer needs.

Regarding the clean label and the perception of various gums and hydrocolloids, she said, “Pectin is probably considered the cleanest, one of the ingredients that Grandma had in her kitchen cupboard, but carob and guar gum are also very high on the list. Gellan gum has a pretty good perception, although there has been some pullback recently, while xanthan is lower on the list because it starts with an “x”.

In cream cheese – where locust bean gum strengthens the body and prevents syneresis [by binding the water with the other ingredients] – you can use it in combination with xanthan and / or guar gum (meaning you can use less, even if your ingredient list will be longer), she said.

Meanwhile, in fruit toppings, you can combine locust bean gum with something like carrageenan (which again means you can use a little less) or replace it with methylcellulose, which also “prevents spillage into pie fillings“Although this name has a less friendly name, so that is a no no for some customers,” she said.

Ingredient: VScustomers are now more open to replacing locust bean gum ”

Karen Silagyi, senior director of global product management food systems at Ingredion (which acquired TIC Gums in January 2017), said she was “see customers more open to locust bean gum replacements this year than in previous years, despite several years of price increases. “

She added: “Although tara gum is a good technical substitute, the market is not as large as that for locust bean gum. GuarNT USA Flavor Free 5000 is a good alternative to locust bean gum as it is a specialty guar gum that has removed the bean notes associated with standard guar.

“It offers similar texture and functionality to locust bean gum, but at a fraction of the current cost. To get a texture even closer to that offered by locust bean gum, we recommend the CARAGUM 200 FF blend, a combination of flavorless guar and locust bean gum, to complement locust bean gum in terms of supply and price. and extend functionality.

* Learn more about what’s happening in the locust bean gum market HERE and contact Denis ([email protected]) Or Nesha ([email protected]) For more information.


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