Functional beverages continue to be a part of new product launches. According to Mintel International’s Global New Products Database, 344 new products were launched in 2010 that carried a functional claim in North America. The term also has been among the key words that could describe the progress of hydrocolloids. To keep up with the functional trend, beverage-makers are able to turn to gums to aid the formulation process.

When developing healthier and easy-to-use products, beverage-makers are adding nutritional value, but by making these adjustments some products could find some problems arise including poor mouthfeel, settling particulates, oil and water separation and protein denaturing, according to Gum Technology Corp., Tucson, Ariz.

“Gums are a great tool when developing these types of beverages,” says Aida Prenzno, laboratory director for Gum Technology. “For example, when you reduce the sugar or the fat content in a product, it loses some of its mouthfeel and texture. By adding small amounts of gums you can mimic these properties.”

When it comes to reducing fat in dairy drinks, such as protein smoothies, Gum Technology offers its Coyote Brand Stabilize CKX-Fat Replacer, which will help with mouthfeel and suspension in beverages, the company says. The gum combines cellulose gel, konjac and xanthan to create a synergistic cold water soluble blend, it adds. The microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) in the gum blend helps it to act as a foam and emulsion stabilizer, which creates a physical barrier that prevents coalescence in emulsions, it says.

“Protein drinks can benefit with the addition of pectin, tara gum and carrageenan,” Prenzno says. “These hydrocolloids help to stabilize the protein while providing suspension and smoother mouthfeel.”

But these are not the only hydrocolloids that offer more than one benefit.

“Hydrocolloids can provide multiple functions in beverages,” Prenzno says. “Gum Arabic, xanthan and propylene glycol alginate, are widely used to stabilize flavor emulsions for beverages and to stabilize emulsions in the beverages as well.”

While low-calorie and better-for-you products are an important segment for hydrocolloid manufacturers, companies also are developing gums that address the enhanced beverage segment.

“With added fortifying ingredients like fiber, calcium and other insoluble vitamins, beverage-makers are looking to assure that consumers get the benefit of these ingredients from the first sip through the last,” says Wanda Jurlina, technical service manager of North America for CP Kelco, Atlanta. “Gellan gum provides uniform suspension of these ingredients throughout the entire beverage and prevents the healthy additives from settling to the bottom of the containers.”

Gellan gum, whether used alone or in combination with other products, can produce a variety of textures. It has the ability to suspend while contributing minimal viscosity through the formation of a functioning fluid gel solution with a weak gel structure, CP Kelco says.

Using certain gums also can add functional benefits to beverages. For example, Coki Fisseha, culinary specialist with TIC Gums, Belcamp, Md., states that gum Arabic can be used for fiber addition without affecting viscosity. The company says that gum Arabic is an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber, containing more than 85 percent on a dry basis. Inulin also can be used in fiber fortification with low-viscosity.

Beverages that carry a functional claim also might include the use of superfruits, such as pomegranate, acai, mangosteen and many more. One issue that CP Kelco is looking to address is the pulpiness that superfruits can bring with them.

“We have been addressing separation issues with our hydrocolloids so that the beverages are visually appealing,” says Kathleen Deely, Americas food marketing manager with CP Kelco.

Formulation trends also are headed toward use in agglomerated gums, says TIC Gums’ Fisseha. This is in hand with the success of pre-hydrated gums, she says.

“These types of gums disperse and hydrate much quicker than ever,” Fisseha says. “Agglomerated gums are very helpful for manufacturers that may not have proper mixing equipment.”

TIC Gums offers FASTir Xanthan EC, an agglomerated product that disperses and hydrates quicker than standard xanthan, Fisseha says. The benefit of quicker dispersion and hydration is that fewer lumps show up when FASTir is applied to the product, according to the company.

Natural, organic attributes
Another segment of the beverage category that gum manufacturers are looking to address is products with natural claims or those that are certified organic.

Recently, CP Kelco added a hydrocolloid for use in organic products. The company announced that Kelcogel gellan gum has been listed as an allowable ingredient for use in organic foods and beverages by the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program under the guidelines established by the National Organic Standards Board.

Kelcogel gellan gum offers suspension and versatile gelling performance that will allow beverage manufacturers to develop products with attributes to meet consumer demands, the company says. Approved products are non-genetically modified organism (GMO,) kosher and halal certified and can be used in vegetarian applications, it adds.

Bridgewater, N.J.-based National Starch Food Innovation has been offering the natural and organic beverage market a clean label format with its natural emulsifier Q-Naturale since 2008.

“In terms of clean label, companies have looked to mother nature to provide the beverage industry with natural and clean label emulsifiers,” says Dinah Diaz, market development manager for E&E and National Starch. “… We launched Q-Naturale as ‘nature’s perfect emulsifier’ because it is a natural, powerful emulsifier that can be used at significantly lower levels than starch or gum Arabic.”

Compared to gum Arabic, Q-Naturale comes in a liquid form and is dispersed immediately, eliminating the slow hydration process that is often associated with gums and modified starches, the company says.

Being labeled as a natural product is one of five major trends in the non-alcohol segment that hydrocolloid manufacturers should be aware of when formulating advancements, Diaz says. Other trends she mentions are health and wellness, indulgence, sustainable products and affordability.

Although Q-Naturale is not a new product, National Starch has taken steps to explain to formulators how using the hydrocolloid can create clearer, sediment-free beverages when using oil-soluble flavors and actives.

“During the last year, our focus has been on educating our customers on the use of Q-Naturale in beverages while eliminating a very expensive ingredient used in the emulsion called weighting agents,” Diaz says. “By using Q-Naturale and eliminating weighting agents, beverage manufacturers can reduce costs, and at the same time, develop beautifully clear beverages.”

Jungbunzlauer, Basel, Switzerland, a producer of natural and nature-identical biodegradable ingredients offers several options of xanthan gum that dissolve readily in hot or cold water to form highly viscous, colloidal solutions, suspension or gels at low concentrations, the company says. Its xanthan gum is produced by fermentation, non-GMO, and is therefore considered a natural ingredient, the company says.

For beverage applications, xanthan gums are available from Jungbunzlauer for standard grades, for quick hydration and rapid viscosity build-up, for easy dispersion to prevent lump formation during hydration and with reduced pseudoplasticity for a smooth flow and better compatibility with other ingredients, the company says.

Balancing the costs
A challenge for hydrocolloid manufacturers can often be keeping costs regulated to fit with their customers’ needs.

Cargill Texturizing Solutions, Minneapolis, offers its EmulTru, an emulsifying food starch developed for beverage emulsions. EmulTru can be used to replace gum Arabic in many applications resulting in lower cost-in-use, the company says. It also can provide better performance and greater supply reliability, it adds.

The product is a cold water soluble starch that can be used at high solids and in high flavor oil loading formulations with long-term storage stability, even at a refrigerated temperature.

National Starch believes that advancements associated with hydrocolloids in beverages are fueled by cost optimization.

“Due to the economic pressures experienced in 2009 and 2010 customers are looking to reducing costs,” National Starch’s Diaz says. “One example is in the area of emulsifiers used in beverages, where new forms of emulsifiers have been developed that permit lower cost in use or enable higher flavor loads for improved productivity and processing efficiencies or even longer shelf life.”

Diaz says using Q-Naturale gives beverage formulators the ability to eliminate weighting agents, which can be costly ingredients in beverage formulas.

But regulating costs for hydrocolloids also can be tied to efficiency in application as well as making sure the application process will get the most use of out the gum system, Gum Tech’s Prenzno says.

“Synergistic gum combinations allow for the reduction on the total amount of gums used,” she says. “Also, making sure that the gum chosen is the most efficient and stable gum for their specific system. This is especially important in systems where other ingredients could compete with the gums for the water available or when [they] are adding a lot of acids into a product that is heat treated. Synergistic combinations of gums allow for the reduction of the total amount of gums used.”

Part of effective gum use is being sure the hydrocolloid is fully hydrated, TIC Gums’ Fisseha says. Without full hydration, manufacturers could need to add additional gum to compensate for the loss of viscosity, she says.

“In addition to proper hydration, pH is also an important factor,” Fisseha says. “Some gums are not low pH tolerable, choosing the right gum for the right application is crucial. When in doubt about process or application, beverage manufactures should contact their supplier.” BI