A study carried out by research institute Ennova for emulsifier manufacturer Palsgaard A/S lists sustainable ingredients as one of the top priorities for food manufacturers. In fact, 88% of the survey’s 276 respondents from around the globe stated that buying sustainable raw materials is important to their companies. And interest was even higher, at 91%, among purchasing department representatives.
According to Palsgaard’s CEO, Jakob Thøisen, the trend is good news for the industry – and for society as a whole: “Recipes based on sustainable ingredients help to answer the health, safety and environmental concerns of both consumers and manufacturers,” he says. “And they can open doors to new markets, too.”
Palsgaard’s presence at the Sustainable Foods Summit in Amsterdam aimed to help visiting manufacturers understand how they could achieve a quick win in the market by switching to fully sustainable emulsifiers – including how to determine whether specific emulsifiers meet sustainability criteria, and what’s required to bring them into existing or new recipes.
While sustainability is clearly a priority, manufacturers are finding it difficult to source trustworthy, fully sustainable ingredients – both due to technical formulation issues and challenges associated with evaluating supplier sustainability claims.
Off to a good start
Palsgaard senior CSR specialist Lisa Mortensen explains why Palsgaard puts its products forward as a solution for manufacturers seeking to lift recipe sustainability: “Replacing a conventional emulsifier with a sustainable one isn’t technically a big issue. But although emulsifiers are a minor part of the ingredients list, they are important to the producer – and many consumers, too – as they appear clearly on the label.”
CO2-neutrality and SG
She cautions, however, that food manufacturers need well-documented sustainable ingredients for their products. In Palsgaard’s view, fully sustainable emulsifiers are those that, as a minimum, fulfil two main criteria: Their palm oil ingredients comply with the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)’s ‘Segregated’ (SG) level – and they are produced in a 100% CO2-neutral factory.
Setting the standard
A supplier’s commitment to using only sustainable palm oil shouldn’t stop at the RSPO SG level, however. In Palsgaard’s case, the company dives even deeper into its supply chain, identifying everything sourced from suppliers, such as fatty acids or antioxidants, that may involve non-sustainable palm materials. No matter how small a part they play in the product. Where sustainable palm materials cannot be assured, Palsgaard switches to using entirely palm-free products instead.
“We put enormous effort into risk analysis and responsible sourcing programmes to ensure that our suppliers act responsibly in the supply chain. And when it‘s possible to source key raw materials from a sustainably certified supply chain, audited by a third party, it gives even more confidence in producing a truly sustainable product,” Mrs. Mortensen explains.
Both palm oil and CO2 emissions are widely known and discussed environmental issues, lending more fuel to the advantages of kick-starting the sustainable ingredients list with emulsifiers.
Making the change
Palsgaard itself is currently the world’s only source of fully sustainable, vegetable-based emulsifiers that are produced by a CO2-neutral factory and which solely use RSPO SG certified palm materials. As the inventor of the modern commercial emulsifier, and with years of heavy investment in sustainability, Palsgaard has achieved CO2-neutrality, for example, at its main production location in Denmark far ahead of any other food ingredients manufacturers. And it stands alone in eliminating all sources of non-sustainable palm oil, however minor.
And the company is well positioned to help manufacturers who want to protect and grow their brands with sustainable ingredients. Additionally, in the broader perspective of sustainability, the company’s emulsifier/stabiliser systems are non-GMO, and they meet halal and kosher requirements too.