Acidity regulators are pH control agents that are used as food additives in order to regulate the acidity or basicity of the food product. Acidity regulators may be mineral or organic acids, neutralizing agents, bases or buffering agents. Acidity regulators are indispensable to the food and beverage industry and are extensively used in diverse applications such as beverages, processed food, condiments, bakery items, confectionary items, sauces and dressings, among others. They regulate and stabilize the pH balance and act as preservatives for the food product in order to optimize its shelf life. Apart from improving the shelf life of the food products, acidity regulators also act as a flavoring substance in confectionary items and condiments. They are also used as taste modifiers and often add a sharp taste to the food product and also function as gelling agents. Acids are naturally present in many fruits and vegetables such as lemons, oranges, mangos, tomatoes, strawberries and apples. Acidity regulators can either be extracted from natural sources or manufactured synthetically.
Based on types, acidity regulators can be broadly classified into acetic acid, lactic acid, citric acid, maleic acid and phosphoric acid. These food additives exhibit preservative, anti-microbial and pH stabilizing properties that increase the shelf life of the food products. The acidity regulator market has gained considerable momentum over the past decade owing to the growth in demand for end-user applications such as beverages and processed food. There has been an increased demand for processed food and health-conscious products among the new age consumers which has positively affected the demand for food acidity regulators. The end-user segment for beverages (nonalcoholic and soft drinks) constituted the largest share for acidity regulators demand followed by sauces, dressings and condiments. Processed food is expected to exhibit the third largest demand for acidity regulators globally. By product types, citric acid enjoys the largest demand, closely followed by phosphoric acid. These acids are preferred over the others in the beverage applications due to their properties, which explain their high demand.
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The growing consumer acceptance for processed food and ready-to-drink beverages has also favorably affected the demand for acidity regulators. Rising disposable income levels and time constraints faced by the global population has also increased their preference for packaged food. Moreover, in the fast-paced lifestyles, ready-to-eat and ready–to-cook foods find preference among the young consumers as it saves precious time. Acidity regulators are used in frozen foods, canned foods as well as dried foods.
The acidity regulator market has witnessed a number of innovations and improvisations among manufacturers in recent years and this is expected to bode well for the industry in the coming years. Traditionally, most of the acids were extracted by the process of natural fermentation. However, many manufacturers turned to various modern extraction techniques such as methanol carbonization, acetaldehyde oxidation and oxidative fermentation which provide higher yield of acids, to cope with the increasing demand.
Asia Pacific accounted for the highest demand for acidity regulators in 2014, and China generated the highest demand, followed by India. China also accounted for a huge number of manufacturers, providing tough competition for the Western companies. Asia Pacific is also expected to the fastest growing region in terms of acidity regulator demand. North America accounted for the second largest market for acidity regulators in the same year, followed by Europe.
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Some of the key companies that operate in this market are American Tartaric Products, Fuerst Day Lawson, Archer Daniels Midland, FBC Industries Inc., Parry Enterprises India, and Chemelco International, among many others.