Increasing incidence of obesity worldwide is resulting in consumers seeking low fat or fat-free foods & beverages products. Increasing number of food and beverages manufacturers are using protein-based, carbohydrate-based, and lipid-based fat replacers. However, as fat replacers alone cannot meet essential attributes, food product manufacturers are also providing a combination of reduced fat products and fat replacers.
Majority of the fat replacers in the fat replacer market are reformulations of previously used food ingredients. Moreover, manufacturers in the food replacer market are formulating a new variety of fat replacer ingredients by using advanced technologies.
Fat replacers are finding large application in the production of cookies, salad dressings, frozen desserts, low-fat cheese, chips, and ice-creams. Manufacturers are developing new products in fat-based fat replacers. These products are likely to use a combination of fat and oil and find large application in products including chips, baked goods, and snack foods. Majority of the new products with low-fat content made using fat replacers are awaiting approval by Food and Drug Administration.
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Increasing number of dairy product manufacturers are replacing expensive butterfat with vegetable fat owing to its cost-effectiveness and numerous health benefits. Manufacturers are focusing on improving structural quality and taste of fat replacers for use in dairy products. The increasing demand for fat-free dairy products offering flavor and taste similar to the traditional dairy products is resulting in new fat replacer development.
Production of the high quality of milk fat replacers made using specific vegetable fat blends is growing. These fat replacers used in a wide range of dairy products including cheese, butter, and whipping cream are extremely cost-effective, resulting in high adoption in developing regions.
Low-fat dairy beverages are also gaining traction across the globe with the introduction of new flavors and rise in health consciousness among consumers owing to increasing instances of obesity.
Studies Claiming Health Benefits of Full-Fat Dairy Products to Impact Fat Replacers Growth
Various global studies have found that consuming full-fat dairy can lead to a lower rate of cardiovascular diseases compared to the consumption of low-fat dairy products. A recent study published in The Lancet found that people consuming three servings of whole fat dairy every day have a lower rate of cardiovascular disease.
Another study was undertaken by an international consortium established by researchers from North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The consortium examined the relationship of fatty acid biomarkers with diseases. In all the 16 studies, researchers found that a higher concentration of dairy-fat biomarkers associated with lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Also, research presented at ESC Congress 2018, claimed that with exception of milk, dairy products protect against mortality from cerebrovascular disease. Hence, all the new studies boldly challenge stance of governmental organizations that advice people to avoid full-fat dairy due to the impact on cholesterol levels.
Although there has been a trend of consuming low-fat and fat-free dairy products. The aforementioned studies and more studies being carried on consumption of full-fat dairy products are likely to hamper the growth of fat replacers used in the production of low-fat dairy products.
Fat Replacer Adoption Positively Influenced by Government Regulations
In addition to growing consumer demand for low-fat food products, governments across the globe are introducing new regulations on consumption of foods containing fat, along with setting a limit on daily consumption of fat. Various policies that regulate and restrict trans fatty acids have been introduced in some countries. Switzerland, Denmark, and some states in the US have adopted regulatory approaches to controlling trans fatty acids in food products.
Most of the countries in Western Europe have taken initiatives to reduce fat content from factory-made foods. Resulting in the majority of established food companies under intense pressure to use substitutes such as fat replacers.
With an aim of global elimination of trans fat in food products, the World Health Organization (WHO) has introduced REPLACE, a guide to eliminate industrially produced trans-fatty acids. Several high-income countries have legally imposed limits on the amount of fat in various packaged food products. However, the action is still needed in low and middle-income countries to control fat in food products.
Several countries in the Asia Pacific have introduced regulations on sugar, salt, and fat in food products. Countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and India are introducing regulations to reduce and eliminate trans-fat content in food products.
Industry-Institution Collaboration to Develop Potential Fat Replacers
Food industry and institutions are working together to develop new fat replacers, owing to some challenges in existing fat replacers in the market. A study conducted by Zhejiang Key Laboratory for Agro-Food Processing et al. found that pectin recovered from citrus canning wastewater during preparation of canned citrus can be a potential fat replacer in ice-cream. The study also found that adding pectin in ice-cream can increase viscosity, hardness and decrease meltdown of ice-cream.
Various studies have also shown that replacing fat with inulin as fat replacer resulted in a significant reduction in fat content in food products. Inulin, a carbohydrate-based fat replacer is finding large application in dairy products including plain and flavored yogurts, and cheese.
Food processing industry is also moving towards using Aloe vera as a fat replacer in bakery products increasing its functional properties. Aloe vera gel as a fat replacer in cake has also shown similar results in terms of texture, color, and softness to the cake prepared with 100% fat. Thus, research and development of new products in the fat replacer market is likely to drive growth and use in the food industry worldwide in near future.
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