Going non-GMO, sustainable with new ingredients

by Laurie Gorton
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Palm oil is free of genetic modification and, so, inherently non-GMO.

Performance and cost are not the only factors that formulators must now consider when adopting new ingredients. As today’s world becomes more interconnected, issues of sustainable sourcing arise. And consumers are taking more interest in whether or not their foods include genetically altered components.

In the US, such concerns are not as well established as in Europe or Asia. “Nonetheless, there may be secondary considerations such as GMO status and sustainability,” observed Jim Robertson, global product manager, emulsifiers, Corbion Caravan. “We use RSPO-certified palm oils certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), and both our plants are RSPO-certified, which allows the sustainability claim.” Also, Corbion Caravan offers non-GMO emulsifiers.

Soybean oil dominates US-source edible oils, and most is GMO. “For some time now, European food manufacturers have to label the presence of GMO materials, so they won’t use such ingredients,” said Sheila Rice, NAFTA region product manager for emulsifiers, DuPont Nutrition & Health. “The reverse has been true in the US, but with what’s happening in Vermont, that may change. However, that presents significant problems. We don’t have the sustainable supply of non-GMO oils in the US to satisfy all potential demands.”

Palm oil, on the other hand, is free of genetic modification and, so, inherently non-GMO. With this raw material, it’s the question of sustainable sourcing that pertains. It is the most abundant vegetable oil on the planet. “However, because of the increasing pressure on demand there is an increasing pressure for palm plantations to expand — at the expense of tropical forest,” said Tim Cottrell, director of business development, emulsifiers and texturants, Kerry Americas. He reported rising demand from consumers for food products that use palm oil to be made from sustainable palm, certified by RSPO and similar organizations.

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