Bakers use food gums to ensure the performance of many types of baked items. Here’s a look at what the tight supply of guar means to these applications and how formulators can cope, according to Laurie Kronenberg, new product leader, nutrition specialties, Ashland Specialty Ingredients, Wilmington, DE.

Baking & Snack: We’re all aware of the situation with guar, but are there other changes and trends formulators for formulators to consider?

Laurie Kronenberg: In the past year, one of the biggest issues involving bakery formulations has been uncertain supply and price volatility of various hydrocolloid ingredients. In 2012, many food manufacturers scrambled for guar gum replacements as the demand for guar from horizontal drilling in the oil and gas industry drove supply shortages and high prices. More recently, it appears that uncertainty may be shifting to the US xanthan gum market as prices and supply are in flux. This year, it seems the uncertainty in the US at least is shifting to the xanthan gum market as prices and supply are in flux in view of ongoing antidumping actions by the US Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration with regards to certain imports of xanthan gum.

Have there been recent developments in applications and trends involving bakery formulations?

The good news is that consumers are increasingly seeking out more sensual eating experiences and remain willing to spend more if given the justification in terms of benefits. As formulators try to work with more cost-effective ingredients, they can focus on flavor innovations, health and wellness developments, and basic product improvements in terms of texture and mouthfeel.

To help formulators, Ashland last year launched its Aquasorb and Aquacel cellulose gum product lines. These lines target guar supplementation and replacement. The primary focus was to provide product options to supplement guar gum and reduce the overall hydrocolloid dose. We found that formulators are opting to use these products to completely replace — rather than supplement — guar gum. The exceptional water binding property of Aquasorb A-500 cellulose gum enabled bakers to reformulate by adding up to 50% more water to improve yields while improving the bakery product’s appearance, texture and shelf-life.

Now we are rolling out new formulations in instant cake mixes using Aquasorb and Aquacel cellulose gums to give options for xanthan gum replacement in new formulations. Using cellulose gum in bakery applications is not new, but these grades have been proven to show benefits in softness, volume and appearance when comparing products with and without cellulose gum, which aligns with consumer demands for more sensory indulgence.

What do you advise bakers seeking an alternative to guar gum or xanthan gum?

With the uncertainty of various hydrocolloid markets, Aquasorb and Aquacel cellulose gums are cost-effective replacements for typical hydrocolloids used in stabilizer blends in baking applications.

Ashland sells Supercol guar gum in addition to these products, so we understand the cause-and-effect relationships of changing from one ingredient to another. Our global team of application scientists can enable formulators to break new ground in bakery performance.

What gums and hydrocolloid ingredients does Ashland offer for bakery and snack applications?

Ashland Specialty Ingredients is a world leader in cellulosic food ingredients. Our products meet our food formulation customers’ health, convenience, quality and processing needs in major food applications.

We create value through applications knowledge, market insight, and a powerful product portfolio for the bakery market segment:

Aqualon, Blanose, Bondwell, Aquasorb and Aquacel cellulose gums: Cellulose gum has the capability for high water absorption and retention in baked and un-baked dough, creating bakery products with improved texture, volume, and nut and fruit distribution. The improved water retention means delayed staling, longer shelf life and crumb stabilization. Cellulose gum is also used in various bakery fillings to achieve a desired level of thickening ranging from fluid to creamy. Cellulose gum prevents phase separation and controls syneresis within the filling itself and reduces moisture migration into the dough. Aquasorb cellulose gum is a specialty grade designed for maximum water retention in bakery and other applications.

Benecel methylcellulose (MC) and hydroxypropylcellulose (HPMC): In fillings, thermal gelation of Benecel MC and HPMC inhibits moisture migration into pie crusts and prevents boil-out while heating fruit bars and pocket dough products. Benecel MC and HPMC stabilize dough and batter aeration to improve volume in cakes and gluten-free applications.

Supercol guar gum: For pie fillings, guar gum is adaptable to any method of processing, allowing full flavor to come through with good body and eye appeal. For tortilla manufacturing, retardation of a product’s cracking tendency and reduction of dough stiffness is important. Guar gum solves these problems and enables improved machining quality.