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Why not all emulsifiers are the same

Selecting an emulsifier is one of the most important decisions a food manufacturer will make. Choose wisely and your product will reach the consumer in perfect condition. Pick the wrong one, however, and you may find yourself facing formulation headaches and lost sales. Here, we provide a definitive guide to getting it right.


Emulsifier effects on food quality

Emulsifiers make two incompatible components – such as oil and water – mix well and stay together. This delivers stability, ensuring the food matrix remains intact from factory to fridge. They are an essential ingredient in a range of product categories, including bakery, confectionery, dairy, ice cream and margarine. They are also a cost-effective solution, offering performance and functionality without hurting the bottom-line.

A common misunderstanding in the food industry is that all emulsifiers are the same. In fact, it is possible to tailor emulsification solutions so that they behave in a way that is appropriate for the application in which they will be used. This is important because the benefits manufacturers are seeking from emulsifiers will vary according to product type.

In cake recipes, for example, batter stability, improved volume and texture are all important, and emulsifiers can provide exactly these benefits. In chocolate, meanwhile, emulsifiers make it easier to control the flow properties of chocolate mass. They can also outperform and supplement lecithin, which offers manufacturers the opportunity to better control costs, achieve uniform and stable products, and simplify production processes.

In low-fat ice cream formulations, emulsifiers can deliver improved creaminess, mouth-feel, meltdown properties, and heat-shock and storage stability. These characteristics ensure the ice cream doesn’t melt too quickly and helps prevent defects like shrinkage and recrystallisation during storage and distribution.

In the dairy category, emulsifiers will stabilize and improve mouthfeel in a variety of formulations, such as oil/water emulsions in chocolate milk drinks and oil/water/air emulsions in whipped creams, among others.

In margarine, they make it possible to control everything from aeration, crystallization, fat reduction and plastification with ease, allowing manufacturers to produce custom-designed margarines for low-fat spreads, cakes and puff pastry.

Targeted functionality

It’s clear that emulsifiers deliver different properties in different applications, so it makes sense that the solution you select should be optimised for the type of product being made. For this reason, Palsgaard has developed a range of solutions that offer targeted functionality across all key food categories.

Palsgaard’s range of high-quality emulsifiers and emulsifier/stabiliser solutions are supported by a first-class product development service. In application centres worldwide, our experts are on-hand to help customers create new products, explore new trends, update existing formulations, fine-tune production processes and prepare for full-scale production.

Sustainability in focus

Tailored performance is not the only benefit Palsgaard’s emulsifiers offer. We are also known globally for our efforts to integrate sustainability into our operations. In 2010, we set a global target for our production sites to become by 2020 and achieved that two years ahead of schedule in 2018.

Furthermore, Palsgaard has increased its focus on delivering sustainable ingredient solutions that are aligned with consumer trends and concerns. Since 2016 we have offered our full product range made from palm oil that is 100% Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified, sustainable and segregated. This commitment to sustainable palm oil is a long-standing one: in fact, Palsgaard has been an RSPO member since 2008.

But while RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil is the most sustainable and functional vegetable oil on the planet, Palsgaard has also produced a range of non-palm emulsifiers that give manufacturers more ways to address consumer concerns. Even with the best emulsifiers, switching to a non-palm formulation of equal quality to that of its palm-based counterpart isn’t completely straightforward. However, if you are looking to explore the non-palm route, our experts can help you solve the associated challenges with a systematic and holistic approach to everything from sourcing alternative oils to coping with their higher melting points. 

Whatever their formulation needs, Palsgaard is ready to help food manufacturers around the world develop products consumers will love and want to buy again and again.

Go deeper with our articles about


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