The hidden cost of non-PHO emulsifiers
- Corbion, a global food ingredients supplier, has pioneered a line of emulsifiers that will help the food industry adapt to a new era without partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). The FDA recently mandated that food companies remove artificial trans fats, or PHOs, within the next three years.
- The non-PHO emulsifiers are "designed to be functionally equivalent to its PHO-based counterparts to simplify the industry's transition away from PHO," Food Ingredients 1st reported. Emulsifiers are common ingredients used for a wide range of foods and purposes, from thickening and thinning to aerating and texturizing. Having a non-PHO version of what was once commonly made with PHOs will be integral to many food companies' transition to an industry without PHOs.
- "One of the biggest challenges the food industry faces is the total cost associated with removing an economical, highly functional ingredient from the food supply," Jim Robertson, Corbion's global products manager for emulsifiers, said to Food Ingredients 1st. "The cost increase is not only driven by the increased cost of the non-PHO alternatives; there are many hidden costs associated with making a change of this magnitude."
Some of the hidden costs Robertson mentioned to Food Ingredients 1st include, "the resource cost required to validate the alternative ingredients, any formulation adjustments required as a result of the non-PHO alternative, shelf life validation of the reformulated products, labeling/nutritional/packaging adjustments to reflect the changes, and most importantly, the opportunity cost associated with focusing scarce resources on reformulation rather than new product development."
Because emulsifiers are such a common food ingredient with so many uses, many companies will be affected by the PHO removal mandate. They will ultimately have to turn to ingredients companies like Corbion for functional alternatives to help them "clean up" their labels, as some experts are calling the movement to remove artificial additives in foods and simplify ingredients. This movement is in response to consumers' calls for cleaner, healthier foods and acts as a way for food companies and brands to foster a relationship with consumers.
"I think many large companies are feeling the pain and working to give the consumers the transparency they want," Angelina de Castro, senior marketing manager for wholesome for Ingredion, Inc., told Food Business News. "But part of this goes beyond reformulations; it's also about gaining the consumer's trust."