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Lecithin is the most natural ingredient for a healthy and sustainable alimentation

Innovation has always been a key feature of the food industry. Indeed, the food sector is particularly known for its ability to develop new products that are able to meet the latest habits of the consumer and trends of the market.

The new demands for food ingredients are directed towards the development and implementation of healthier and more sustainable solutions. International markets are clearly geared towards clean and natural ingredients, having generalized their transversal use given their many applications and uses.

Their success is indissociable from the health and sustainability duo. indeed, for instance, one of fields where the industry is focusing a lot of its efforts, is that of the nutritional profile of the aliments, and the diminution of their salt and sugar contents, and their substitution with flavor enhancers.

Another example is the development if solutions for vegetarian and vegan alternatives, with ingredients that, beyond having the proper taste and texture, make up for their potential deficiencies with high levels of mineral proteins and other active ingredients.

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Lecithin is a healthy alternative

Lecithin is a complex mix of natural phospholipids. It is found in all natural oils, but soy, sunflower and rape seed oil have the highest contents. It can also be found, though in much lesser quantities, in egg yolk.

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As a natural emulsifier, lecithin boasts many different industrial and chemical uses in a wide range of businesses: human and animal foods, pharmacy, dietetics, etc.

And if there is one company that has made the processing of raw lecithin for the food industry its specialty, it’s Lasenor. Our company offers a wide range of specialized uses for lecithin which enable us to provide solutions for the latest demands of the market as well as the needs of our national and international clients.

Lasenor has standardized this natural emulsifier in order to ensure that all its parameters (physicochemical, organoleptic, microbiological, sanitary…) are under control during the production phases and guaranteed for its use and consumption.

A natural substitute

In such a demanding sector as the food industry, lecithin can be found in a wide array of products.

One of its most famous uses is in sugar cookies. Indeed, lecithin is widely used in the production in order to obtain a soft dough and to limit the fat contents of the cookies without sacrificing quality. It is a natural substitute to DATEM, also known as mono- and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids (E472e). This synthetic emulsifier is used to compensate for the hardness due to the lack of fats during the production phase of the cookie.

For this particular case, Lasenor has a wide range of solutions of hydrolyzed soy (VEROLEC HE-60) and sunflower (GIRALEC HE-60) lecithins which offer the same porousness, hardness, and friability as DATEM, but in a much healthier and more natural form.

One of the other uses for hydrolyzed lecithin is the production of extruded cereals. Lasenor provides to the manufacturers of your typical breakfast cereal the same range of hydrolyzed lecithins as the one used for cookies (VEROLEC HE-60 and GIRALEC HE-60), which have significant advantages: they increase the plasticity of the dough during the extrusion process, they are easily diluted in water and are soy allergen free when you opt for the sunflower lecithin. Moreover, as a natural emulsifier, Lasenor’s lecithins are SOLVENT FREE, meaning that absolutely no solvent whatsoever (including hexane) is involved in their fabrication process. This type of lecithins are sold under the name GIRALEC SF (for sunflower) and VEROLEC SF (for soy).

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Organic products and lecithins

Consumer demand for healthier products is causing a general increase in organic production all over the world.

These are products that are exponentially popular and that can now be found not only in specialized stores, but in almost every medium-size to large supermarket.

The latest investigations show that organic products generate economic growth, reduce poverty levels, and are seen as a key factor in rural economic development.

The industry is coming together and collaborating in order to build a supply chain that is safe and able to support demand. The law is also changing – new standards are implemented in order to protect both producers and consumers.

In the case of lecithin used in organic food products, the EU determined in 2019 that it must come from organic agriculture.

In order to confirm their origins, the organic lecithins produced at Lasenor bear a double organic certification: European and American, given they come entirely from Europe and the United States in the case of sunflower and soy lecithins, respectively. Furthermore, the entire production and manipulation process of these lecithins is carried out in Europe, and specifically at Lasenor’s plant in Barcelona.

The European organic certification was granted by the “Consell Català de la Producció Agrària Ecològica (CCPAE)” (Catalan Council on Organic Agricultural Production), an institution included in the list of public authorities and oversight bodies of the European Union.

Lasenor is further certified by the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP), a certification body accredited by the USDA (ECOCERT).

As a specialist in the development of tailor-made lecithins according to the needs of consumers, Lasenor offers different botanic origins to the manufacturers of organic food: VEROLEC ORGANIC SRN (soy-based) and GIRALEC ORGANIC SRN (sunflower-based)

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Allergen-free products

One of the most popular foods in the history of our diet is milk. But in recent years, its consumption is generating controversy among consumers as they look for healthier and more sustainable options, which has increased demand for non-dairy milks. In the American market for instance, almond milk now represents 5% of the dairy market, and is a clear favorite among non-dairy milks. This type of products is also manufactured and sold in other countries like Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Spain.

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But given that non-dairy milks are linked to a healthy lifestyle, synthetic emulsifiers are not thought of as a good option, and neither is soy lecithin, given its allergens.

This is why the majority of alternative milks, almond in particular, use sunflower lecithin, and more specifically, due to its high water content, hydrolyzed sunflower lecithin.

This range of hydrolyzed lecithins made by Lasenor facilitates the emulsion and ensures its stability in almond milk in particular and non-dairy milks in general that contain fats.

The recommended products for use in this area are GIRALEC HE-60 SRN and GIRALEC H-US SRN (specifically for the American market).

Fats and sugars reduction

The reduction of fats and sugar content control are one of the main trends in the food industry to fight obesity and make products more attractive to consumers, who care about their health and well-being.

Cookies with a lower fat content are one example of this new demand of the market. Emulsifiers are used in cookie doughs in order to obtain a homogeneous mix of the polar and non-polar ingredients of the recipe, improving the repartition of all the ingredients and thus, improving the rheology of the dough.

The emulsifier is key in obtaining the desired product. Depending on the recipe and the desired properties of the dough, it can act as an airing agent which traps air or forms a complex with other components of the dough such as starch or proteins.

Lecithin, as an emulsifier, has been broadly used in the production of cookies in order to obtain a softer dough and to reduce the fat content in cookies without affecting the quality of the product.

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In its most common shape, lecithin is a highly viscous liquid which must be added to the fat part of the cookie given it is immiscible in water and cannot be mixed with flour or sugar. In order to improve its manipulation and facilitate its direct integration into the dough, Lasenor has developed the LECISOL range. It is a powdered product containing 50% of hydrolyzed sunflower lecithin pulverized onto wheat or rice flour and an anti-caking agent. Hydrolyzed lecithin is used due to its higher polarity than standard lecithin, allowing for a perfect integration of all the ingredients of the cookies.

Therefore, given the hydrolyzed nature of LECISOL and its powder form, they are designed to adapt to the various necessities of cookie manufacturers. They are also adapted to gluten-free cookies, given that in the case of the pulverization onto rice flour, our company offers the LECISOL RF GLUTEN FREE option.

The latest technical studies carried out by our I&D department show that LECISOL can also help producers to reduce the fat content in cookies without sacrificing the softness of the product

Sustainability

Inextricably linked to the healthy food markets is the concept of sustainability as a reflection of the new lifestyle that is gaining ground in our society.

The fight against climate change and the preservation of the environment are strategical priorities for Lasenor. The commitment of our company to sustainability is a bet on sustainable development, social progress, environmental balance and economic growth. This commitment can be seen through different actions that aim to reduce the impact of the resources necessary to develop and elaborate its products.

This is why Lasenor has created a logo on the carbon footprint, which is a reflection of our public commitment to handle in a more sustainable manner the greenhouse gas emissions linked to our industrial activity.¡

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Conclusion

Food consumption habits are changing all over the world. There is an increasing number of consumers that wish to eat healthier and more sustainable products, in line with a new lifestyle.

An alimentation that combines health and sustainability, and alimentation made of natural, organic and allergen-free ingredients, as well as with lower fat and sugar contents.

In this context, the companies of the food ingredients sector are innovating and developing new products that aim to satisfy consumer demands for more organic products.

One of the food ingredients that offers the best response to the need for both health and sustainability is lecithin, a natural emulsifier that can be used in a wide array of situations in the industry.

Lasenor’s knowledge and experience with this raw material enables us to offer a wide range of solutions that respond to the new necessities of the market as well as the particular needs of its national and international clients, along with all the guarantees offered by a human team specialized in the processing of raw lecithin for use in the food industry.

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Lasenor integrates spray drying technology in the manufacturing process of its emulsifiers

Lasenor has always placed emphasis on innovation in the fabrication processes of its products. One example of this commitment to innovation is the latest integration of spray drying technology at its Olesa de Montserrat plant.

Using a system based on spray dying enables for the improvement of the physiochemical properties of emulsifiers. Thanks to an ultra-fast process, products are vaporized at the highest quality while preserving their core characteristics.

This drying process also offers the possibility of obtaining a final product in powder form, which is much easier to manipulate and transport and impacts the final cost of the product.

Given the possibilities offered by spray drying technology, Lasenor has qualitatively expanded its service catalog, which now offers new solutions adapted to any needs its clients may have with regards to the elaboration of their products.

But as always when introducing new processes in a company, integrating this technology has been a challenge for the Lasenor teams. First, such a technologically complex and imposing equipment as this one had to be tuned. Second, very complex products had to be developed from the products that the company already synthesized, as well as new synthetic derivatives, similar to the previous ones, which had to be modified in order to achieve the necessary features.

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Technical characteristics and features

In this new installation, the product is introduced in a water base. In order to fully hydrate it, an emulsion is created with emulsifiers, bases, and other ingredients like stabilizers, which are injected at high pressure into the spraying chamber, meaning there is a counterflow of air at high temperatures. This way, the water evaporates and remains an integrated emulsifier onto a base, already activated and prepared to be appropriately rehydrated. Once powdered, the product is then automatically bagged.

One of the main advantages that these emulsifiers have with regards to similar products used for the same purposes but hydrated at 50 or 60%, is how easy they are to handle, their cost effectiveness and the cost reduction for their transfer.

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Type of products

The products that Lasenor elaborates with the spray-dryer are mostly used in the pastry industry, and in particular for products that are to be used in the production of cakes, muffins, sheets, pies, marble cakes and much more.

The dry-spraying technology is also used for products used in production processes such as creams, whipped vegetal creams, pie fillings, pie decorations, airy or whipped desserts, (semi-frozen or frozen), milk or plant-based milk beverages, smoothies, fermented products such as yogurt/cottage cheese, etc.

Moreover, they can be found as part of powdered products, mixed with other ingredients such as stabilizers, gums, proteins, serums, alginates, etc. for a wide range of domains in the food industry.

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What is the general situation of lecithin in the world?

As a Company present in the main supply areas of Non-GMO lecithin, Lasenor prepares periodical updates on its evolution with the aim of offering this information as a diagnosis and management tool for its clients.

Non-transgenic soy – Preserved Identity

The Indian harvest in 2020 had a lower percentage of damaged seeds than the 2019 one. However, the supply from farmers to the mills was interrupted by widespread floods, which triggered speculative transactions and an increase in prices as a result.

This circumstance, together with the rise in the marketplaces of Chicago and Malaysia, where levels have reached their highest points in five years, has caused even more price speculation on the part of the mills.

Due to the situation of the market, the preserved-identity non-transgenic soy lecithin prices have increased by 6% in 2020 and 9% in 2021.

Another important factor to keep in mind is the presence of ochratoxin (OTA) in food products coming from India. Its prevalence in that country is such that it could lead in the near future to the creation of a double market that would create high prices for low-OTA lecithin and a lower price for lecithins with few OTA restrictions.

 

In this context, Russia has become a reliable option for preserved-identity non-transgenic soy lecithin, given that local regulations ban the use of foods derived from GMO.

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Sunflower

The sunflower production during the 2020/21 period, of 8.86 million tons, is significantly lower than the one from last year and the average of the last five years, which is mainly due to the decrease in production in Romania and Bulgaria.

According to Lasenor, the development of this market dynamic has given mixed signals during the period going from September to December of 2020:

  • Mills in Russia and the Ukraine were overly cautious because of lower availability, and the price offered for raw lecithin oil has been increasing since the beginning of the season, because of the concerns over availability.
  • Mills in Western Europe were aware of this shortage of raw material in Russia and the Ukraine, but the pressure to increase market shares and recoup the investments of the last 5 years, led them to go along with the downward trend of prices.
  • As a result, prices are at the lowest they have ever been at this time of year.

 

 

But when came the time to deliver products to clients, vendors were going through big difficulties to procure the necessary raw material to respect their engagements.

As a logical consequence, prices are now rising due to the lower availability on the market.

Organic Lecithin

In our Lecithin News of the first trimester of 2020, we expressed our concern over the reliability of the product available on the market due to:

  • The productivity of the crop: 2 metric tons per hectare. Average yield for traditional sunflower; probably lower for organic crops.
  • The yield of the oil extraction keeping in mind that only mechanic press is allowed: 32% of the weight of the seed.
  • Lecithin content: 7 Kg per metric ton of raw sunflower oil, according to Lasenor data.

 

One element to highlight in this organic sunflower lecithin market (which boasts a potential global production of around 800 tons per year), is the current offer of unlimited volumes of organic sunflower lecithin coming from suppliers in India and China. This is an interesting paradox if you remember that there are no organic crops in either country. More astonishing still is the case of India, taking into account that they import around 1.000 tons of traditional sunflower lecithin dos monthly.

Upward Trend

In various editions of Lecithin News from 2017 and 2018, we were giving information on the debate in the media and with the public around transgenic foods in the United States.

That debate has now become a reality in the United States and American companies have deemed non-transgenic foods to be a crucial challenge in their industrial and commercial activity for the next few years.

American consumers are becoming more and more mindful of this material which has triggered demand in the biggest market of the world. Big supermarket chains are now presenting non-GMO product lines and policies.

Furthermore, the trend towards a cleaner food label is driving the change of synthetic emulsifiers for natural ones like specialty functional lecithin, which could potentially be a substitute for synthetic emulsifiers in certain applications like bakery and confections.

 

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LASENOR INTEGRATES THE GRANULATION SYSTEM IN THE PRODUCTION OF SYNTHETIC EMULSIFIERS

Lasenor recently installed in its Barcelona plant the granulation system for the manufacturing of any type of synthetic emulsifier pellets.

Concretely, the new industrial technology and equipment installed enable for the manufacturing of synthetic emulsifier pellets with high and medium melting points, synthetic emulsifiers and compounds that are very difficult to make in a flake or powder form (with low melting points).

This manufacturing system in the form of pellets brings about significant advantages compared to the traditional production of synthetic emulsifiers in powder or flake form:

  • No dust is generated when bags are emptied and they can be packed in big bags.
  • Removing the powder is an increasingly appreciated circumstance for certain clients, who are starting to rule out products in this form due the issues they create and choose the pellet format due to its easier and cleaner manipulation.
  • The clients who have tried the product in its pellet form can attest to the improvement in its handling compared to its flake form, due to the fact that it is more efficiently poured into the casting.
  • On an esthetical level, a pellet product has a higher quality appearance compared to flakes, due to a better uniformity and lesser propensity to caking.

The production capacity of this new granulation system is extremely versatile given that, depending on the product’s characteristics, can manufacture between 400 kg /h to 1000 kg/h.

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new industrial technology installed at the Lasenor plant in Barcelona

HIGH QUALITY PELLET MAKER

High quality pellet maker

In order to install this new industrial equipment, also known as a pellet maker, Lasenor has collaborated with Sandvik, one of the main global providers of granulation systems.

Thanks to its latest generation Rotoform ® technology, the system is extremely flexible, as it can handle a wide range of pellet sizes and temperature profiles, guaranteeing a high quality and uniform final product.

In addition to being extremely efficient from a performance standpoint, the Rotoform ® technology also enables processers to reduce their carbon footprint, given that cooling times are short, energy costs low, and gas emissions kept to a minimum.

The Rotoform® system was the first one used for chemical granulation at the beginning of the 1980s, and has become the standard solution for a wide range of chemical products, given its main characteristics:

  • Hemispherical pellets uniform in size easy to handle and measure.
  • Free flowing product facilitating transportation, mixing, storage and subsequent reprocessing.
  • Hemispherical shape of the product and low friability ensuring a minimum amount of dust.
  • High apparent density and excellent packaging and storing properties.
  • Indirect cooling causing minimal environmental impact.
  • Grinding or crushing unnecessary.
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LASENOR® BK, THE NEW RANGE OF EMULSIFIERS THAT FACILITATES THE PRODUCTION OF CAKES AND BAKERY MIXES

Bakery and patisserie are extremely broad market segments that include an extensive catalog of products which, in turn, are produced and sold in many countries with different local needs and requirements.

However, these market segments lean towards a more industrial production model that calls for a more efficient production process, forcing manufacturers to adapt their recipes in order to be more competitive in such a global market as the current one.

As in many other sectors, bakery and patisserie seek to optimize their production processes, reducing their costs and extending the useful life of their products, but always with the common goal of offering the highest quality in their end product.

To meet these quality standards, it is vital and essential that bakery and patisserie professionals use the best ingredients, food components that make their work easier and provide them with better results.

This is the case of Lasenor® BK, a new range of activated emulsifiers in powder format, created by the R&D+i Department at Lasenor and facilitating the production process for cakes and bakery mixes.

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What advantages does Lasenor® BK provide?

In bakery, emulsifiers are often incorporated into the recipe in the form of hydrates or cake gel. However, these emulsifying systems require hydration or pre-treatment, and have certain stability and dosage limitations. Furthermore, they cannot be added as ingredients in powdered bakery mixes used by industry, artisans, or in home cooking.

Those limitations are overcome with Lasenor® BK, which provides:

  • Longer shelf life
  • Easier dosing
  • Increased suitability in bakery mixes and retail products

Another limitation overcome by this new range of emulsifiers involves the effects of egg reduction that many manufacturers are implementing in order to reduce their production costs. If there is a basic and expensive ingredient in almost all cake recipes, that would be the egg. Now, thanks to Lasenor® BK, the main properties of products such as eggs can be preserved while achieving financial profit in their production.

In the attached images, the cake on the left corresponds to a recipe with egg reduction containing Lasenor® BK, while the one on the right is made using the same recipe, but without an emulsifier.

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Another advantage to highlight is that, with Lasenor® BK, all the ingredients can be mixed at the same time in the so-called “all-in” process. Incorporated air is maximized, evenly distributed, and stabilized in the dough during baking, allowing for an even crumb and larger cake volumes.

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This “all-in ” process also provides the following added benefits in the end product:

  • Bigger volume
  • Increased efficiency
  • Extended softness
  • Improved mouthfeel
  • Finer crumb structure
  • Smoother surface
  • Longer service life

Dose and mixing time

A challenge that Lasenor® BK also solves is the reduction in mixing time, providing an optimized production process and, consequently, lower costs for the manufacturer.

In the image below you can see that, after a few minutes of mixing, the required dough density is obtained. In processes where long mixing times are required, Lasenor® BK shows exceptional functionality to maximize air intake, providing bigger volumes, extended softness, and an improved mouthfeel.

If we compare the dough density curves and the whipping time for different cake recipes in the attached graph, we can see that longer mixing times do not negatively affect product performance, as there is no loss of air in the system.

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Meeting market demands

As a leading company in the production and application of emulsifiers for food, Lasenor develops new products aimed at meeting market demands and improving the manufacturing processes of the products of companies in the sector.

With the launch of Lasenor® BK, our company offers an innovative solution in the field of food emulsifiers to one of the most important challenges that bakery and patisserie shops currently face at an industrial level. And with the highest quality and maximum financial performance!