By 2020, the food anti-caking agents market is expected to be worth $822 million, according to Markets to Markets. Europe will continue to lead the food anti-caking market; and China and India will continue as the largest markets in Asia-Pacific.
Challenges to the expansion of the market come from negative consumer perceptions as to the nutritive value of food anti-caking agents, as well as rigorous government regulations. For example, the European Union has banned the use of sodium bicarbonate E550. However, the growth of anti-caking agents is related to consumers’ quest for quality ingredients, which have spurred product innovations and require the agents to prevent caking.
Manufacturers of anti-caking agents are marching forward by addressing consumers’ concerns through innovations and expansions and acquisitions to gain market share.
Seasonings and condiments comprise the largest share for anti-caking agents, followed by the bakery segment, according to a report released in January by Markets to Markets.
Consumer concerns are not unfounded. Research shows the agents degrade nutrients instead of protecting them, such as with vitamin C, leading to loss of nutritional values at low humidity levels, Suraj Nagvenkar, a Markets to Markets analyst, told Food Dive in an email.
He added consumers in North America and Europe want food products that address health, wellness, and their active lifestyles. As such, they perceive e-labels on food packages to mean the product is unsafe, unaware of the permitted dosage range of food additives.
Regulations set by legislative leaders to curb the use of food additives can also stymie the growth of anti-caking agents. Labeling laws in certain countries impact the consumption of food anti-caking agents because they create restrictions or prohibitions in trade, Nagvenkar pointed out. In 2014, calcium compounds comprised the largest market share, followed by silicon dioxide and sodium compounds.
Growth and innovation
For industry context, Markets to Markets found between 2010 and 2015, 14 industry moves were the result of expansion projects. Acquisitions accounted for nine industry moves during the same period.
According to an e-mail from Zack Brigman, marketing analyst, Solvay S.A., the industry’s growth is attributed to population expansion, especially in the developing world, and the growth in powdered foods, related to geographical food habits and market maturity. The current and mid-term higher growth areas for Solvay are South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The anti-caking properties of Solvay’s product support emerging and high growth market segments such as "powered and performance sports drinks, processing aids for more effective production, seasonings, and milk, egg and other products for animal nutrition," Brigman said. The anti-caking agent innovation acts as an efficient processing aid, for example, in the prevention of sticking in spray drying.
Manufacturer Omya is turning its attention toward food anti-caking agents. Its high growth regions include Europe, North America, and parts of Asia. Officials see expanded economic opportunities because while calcium carbonate and newly developed functionalized calcium carbonate (FCC) show high functionality, they are not widely used as food anti-caking agents, according to Stefan Lander, vice president for food, pharma, and cosmetics, Omya, in an email.
FCCs are a versatile raw ingredient that can be used by a variety of customers in any number of food applications. The nutrient is not only an effective source of calcium but also has functionalities such as extrusion aids, pH buffers, and gelling agents. Calcium carbonate has limitations based on low pH blends, Lander added.
Emerging and high growth segments for Omya, based in Switzerland, include manufacturers of spices, nutraceuticals, and infant nutrition.
Lander said FCCs have the "capability of taking up very high amounts of liquids and still remain a powder." The company’s calcium carbonates, combined with high purity (e.g. low aluminum levels), obtained from natural raw materials and only treated physically, are attractive for use in natural products.
"In the past, mainly precipitated calcium carbonate has been used, which is introducing quite a high carbon footprint," Lander said..
The use of anti-caking agents in foods remains crucial to maintaining the quality of ingredients, which is important to consumers who command better quality ingredients in a variety of foods. Nagvenkar said the agents play an important role because they enable the "flow and even mixture of hygroscopic materials during the production process, ensuring that the final product is a homogeneous mixture."