The continual development of health and wellness beverages also has advanced the application of hydrocolloids. These ingredients used as emulsifiers, stabilizers and gelling agents include acacia gum, pectin, carrageenan and xanthan, among others.

Incorporating vitamins, minerals and other fortifications into beverages can be accomplished by using hydrocolloids without impacting flavor or texture, says Jane Schulenburg, marketing director, global positioning at CP Kelco, Atlanta. In addition to nutrition and fortification trends driving the use of hydrocolloids, the demand for more natural and eco-friendly products is increasing hydrocolloid inclusions, adds Sebastien Baray, technical manager at Colloides Naturels International (CNI), Rouen, France. For beverage-makers formulating organic products, hydrocolloid suppliers offer organic or organic-compliant hydrocolloids as well.
More healthful smoothies and probiotic drinks using hydrocolloids also are entering the market, says Grace Wang, food scientist at Belcamp, Md.-based TIC Gums. “We’ve also seen increased interest in adding a gelled texture to beverages, which can be achieved by using gelling agents like agar carrageenan,” she says.
Hydrocolloids also are appearing in more juice drinks for the specific functions the ingredients can provide. For example, juice drinks containing 10 to 40 percent juice with additional ingredients such as water, sugar and citric acid normally are thinner in body and texture than a 100 percent juice product. “The use of a hydrocolloid or a blend of hydrocolloids at a level of 0.05 to 0.3 percent can restore or mimic the body or mouthfeel of real juice,” says Wen J. Shieh, beverage technical manager at Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis.
In protein-enriched juice smoothies, the pH of the beverage will cause precipitation of protein during storage. The addition of a hydrocolloid, such as high ester pectin, will provide stabilization of protein to prevent the precipitation, Shieh says.
Hydrocolloids also aid low- and no-calorie beverages. When a nutritive sweetener is replaced with high-intensity sweeteners, the resulting beverage will have a body or mouthfeel similar to water, Shieh says. “The addition of a hydrocolloid or a blend of hydrocolloids at a level of 0.05 to 0.2 percent will be able to impart the mouthfeel close to that of a full-calorie beverage,” he says.
To recover the body and mouthfeel when using sugar substitutes, CP Kelco developed specialty hydrocolloids Genu Pectin and Keltrol Xanthan Gum. CP Kelco’s Genu Pectins are polysaccharides derived from naturally occurring structural components in fruits and vegetables, such as citrus peel and sugar beets.
“Incorporating Genu Pectin is an excellent way to obtain enhanced mouthfeel when reducing sugar in fruit-flavored beverages,” CP Kelco’s Schulenburg says. “Genu Pectin’s unique physical and rheological properties allow the ability to recover body lost when removing sugar without merely adding back viscosity. Such beverages will exhibit the expected properties of a full-sugar product without all the calories.”
Stabilization of protein- containing drinks at a pH of approximately 4, similar to smoothies and milk-juice drinks, work well with YM grades of Genu Pectin, Schulenburg says. “These grades are specifically designed to associate with proteins in the pH range of 3.8 to 4.2, and protect the proteins from aggregation, even during heat treatment,” she says.
CP Kelco also developed Kelcogel Gellan Gum to provide suspension of insoluble ingredients, such as vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and proteins, without impacting drinking viscosities. Kelcogel Gellan Gum allows formulators more ingredient options without sacrificing shelf appeal because it does not set or hard pack at the bottom of the bottle, Schulenberg says. It also provides a more palatable drinking experience due to low viscosity, she adds.
“Suspension with Kelcogel Gallan Gum is made possible by the formation of a fluid gel network,” Schulenberg explains. “The network functions through self- association of large molecules, creating an entangled network, which can suspend insoluble ingredients uniformly throughout the beverage.
“The beverage maintains a weak gel character in the liquid, so that when the beverage is undisturbed — as on the grocery shelf — the viscosity is high and provides excellent suspension properties. Upon agitation — as in drinking or pouring — the network is disrupted and the viscosity decreases to a point where the product has a pourable consistency with smooth texture, providing a mouthfeel that is low vs. alternative stabilizers.”
Other gums like guar and xanthan, used to thicken beverages like smoothies, also are available in new varieties. TIC Gums launched Guar Flavor Free 4000 and a line of blends using Flavor Free Guar, which does not contain the beany flavors associated with guar, the company’s Wang says.
TIC Gums also developed a new process called FASTir for rapid hydration and dissolution. “FASTir CMC 6000, FASTir Xanthan and FASTir Xanthan EC are perfect for instant dry mix beverages depending on natural status, the need to suspend particulates and conditions — for example, alcohol, salt, etc.,” Wang says.
Developing hydrocolloid substitutes is another area of development for hydrocolloid providers. CNI released Eficacia, an all-natural substitute for acacia gum, modified starch and modified acacia gum. Eficacia is obtained through a chemical-free and enzyme-free proprietary process that enhances its stabilizing properties, CNI’s Baray says. It can be labeled as acacia gum, he says.
Another new hydrocolloid substitute from CNI is Thixogum S, a synergistic co-processed blend of highly purified acacia gum and xanthan gum. Thixogum S combines the emulsifying and stabilizing properties of acacia gum with the thickening and suspending abilities of xanthan gum to provide mouthfeel for juice-based drinks, while stabilizing pulps and essential oils. Due to its granulated and dust-free form, Thixogum S is instantly dispersible in cold water with no formation of lumps, Baray says.
“Hydrocolloids can be difficult to use because they tend to form lumps when dissolved in an aqueous medium,” he says.
The fiber benefit
In addition to gums providing the important function of mimicking the original mouthfeel of full-calorie and full-fat products in low-sugar and low-fat beverages and suspending insoluble ingredients, gums can augment the overall fiber content.
“Indeed, hydrocolloids are non-digestible carbohydrates that contribute to the fiber-content of food products,” CNI’s Baray says. “So in the past few years, all the leading hydrocolloid manufacturers devoted a tremendous amount of effort to show and prove the nutritional and health benefits of their products.”
CNI offers Fibregum, the company’s acacia gum with a guaranteed minimum level of 90 percent soluble fiber and a low viscosity. Acacia fiber is neutral in taste and color, and is very resilient whatever the pH of the beverage is, Baray says.
“Low-viscosity hydrocolloids represent the first choice because they can be used at higher levels in the beverage to reach the nutritional claim thresholds with no detrimental impact on the texture,” Baray says.
Combining gums together can produce desired mouthfeel and functional attributes specific to customer needs, says Aida Prenzno, laboratory director at Gum Technology, Tucson, Ariz. “Gums that add a health benefit while also adding or contributing to a favorable organoleptic property is one of the most popular trends,” she says.
“For example, Gum Technology’s new Coyote Brand Stabilizer AS-0912, a blend of gum arabic and sugarcane fiber, was developed to add both soluble and insoluble fiber to beverages without increasing the viscosity,” Prenzno says.
Acacia gum received an additional health boost at the end of 2008 when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified CNI that it had no objection to the lowering of the caloric value of acacia gum. The caloric value was changed from 4 to 1.7 calories per gram.
“The contribution of 2 percent Fibregum added to a 10-ounce beverage was 24 calories per gram, and it would only be 10 calories per gram now,” Baray says. “Until very recently, Fibregum was considered a carbohydrate, thus having a level of 4 calories per gram for the calculation of the nutritional value of foods. CNI has spent several years and multiple resources in conducting scientific studies that show that the actual caloric value of acacia gum is 1.7 caloires per gram.”
TIC Gums’ Wang also thinks acacia gum’s lower caloric value will give beverage-makers another reason to use the hydrocolloid in their beverages. “It’s always been used as an emulsifier, but now one might add more of it to get a fiber claim, but keep the calories at a minimum,” she says.
Normally the use of hydrocolloids in beverages for mouthfeel and functionality is very small, and does not add any significant calories to beverages.
In addition to increased attention to acacia gum for providing soluble fiber, new research shows that hydrocolloids offer additional health benefits. For example, fenugreek gum and konjac have shown in studies to help lower cholesterol. Research has been conducted on pectin and pectin fragments and the possible positive influence on cancer. Studies have been done on gut microbial health and how soluble fibers, such as gums, can affect their levels and functions. The effects of hydrocolloids on wellness and intestinal comfort and the beneficial impact of hydrocolloids on blood glycemia are of interest to consumers too. Hydrocolloids also have shown potential benefits of rehydration enhancement and mineral absorption.
While many studies are looking at the potential of hydrocolloids as health ingredients, in most beverage applications, hydrocolloids currently are used in low levels, below what is needed to create a health benefit, Cargill Texturizing Solutions’ Shieh cautions.