Beating the LBG price spiral: How to control the quality of your ice cream – and your costs

The LBG and tara gum price crisis

Locust Bean Gum (LBG) has long been a go-to ingredient in ice cream, particularly in products with a luxury positioning. It acts as a stabiliser and thickener, preventing ice crystal growth, increasing creaminess and controlling meltdown. But LBG has never been associated with stability when it comes to cost. There have long been spikes in price and fluctuations in availability, but the situation has now spiralled out of control. With demand outstripping supply and speculators sitting on stocks, prices are more than eight times higher than two years ago.

Initially, tara gum represented a price-stable alternative. However, cost-in-use prices of that too have skyrocketed as a knock-on effect of the LBG situation.

”Fluctuating LBG costs are nothing new”, says Claus Prior Hansen, Application Manager for Ice Cream and Dairy at Palsgaard. “The problem now is that costs have gone sky high and stayed there  – and tara has followed it. It’s not a feasible alternative anymore and it’s creating a lot of frustration for manufacturers.”

We’re really confident in these new products – both in terms of the cost reductions they can generate and the performance they offer.

New LBG-free solutions

Help is at hand in the form of new additions to Palsgaard’s range of emulsifiers and stabilisers for ice cream. They are free from LBG and tara gum, instead using more price-stable options such as guar gum (E412), vegetable fibre and sodium alginate (E401).

The new blends are designed for applications including extruded and moulded ice creams, soft ice and plant-based frozen desserts. Including, lean-label, palm-free and PHO-free options, they are designed to deliver the same benefits as LBG as far as possible. These include a creamy, rich eating experience, high overrun and heat shock protection.

“Our goal was to create alternatives that offered manufacturers the functionality they’re used to, but at a reasonable price,” says Claus. “We’re really confident in these new products – both in terms of the cost reductions they can generate and the performance they offer.”

The new additions to Palsgaard’s range are all plant-based, and kosher and halal-certified, and the palm-based varieties are available as RSPO SG-certified. And they are produced in CO2-neutral facilities, helping meet the growing expectation of sustainability.

Furthermore, they don’t require a major departure from what manufacturers are used to. “We do offer stabilisers based on different ingredients, like CMC and carrageenan,” Claus explains. “However, tradition is important in a lot of European markets. They’ve used LBG for a long time and they might not want to start using a very different ingredient like cellulose.”

Reduce costs by up to two thirds

Claus’s calculations show that in recipes with LBG, emulsifiers/stabilisers can account for over 12% of the cost of the ice cream mix. “You can see the problem with that,” he says. “You have an ingredient that’s only contributing 0.5% of the recipe but 12% of the price.”

Using Palsgaard’s new solutions, that figure can be taken below 5%. In terms of cost in use, the estimated reduction can range from a half to two thirds. “That’s obviously really attractive,” says Claus. “And it’s enough to allow the blends to be used at higher dosages to get even better levels of performance.”

No compromise on functionality

Furthermore, those savings don’t come at the cost of reduced functionality. “There is no single golden ingredient that can replace LBG,” Claus says. “However, these solutions come close. In a lot of areas, like melting resistance, the functionality is the same as you get with LBG. In others, it’s not an exact match, but it’s not far off.”

The new products have also been found to offer great sensory properties, with an expert panel awarding them similar scores to LBG on body, creaminess, warmth of eating, cohesiveness of structure and chewiness.

Like Palsgaard’s other emulsifiers and stabilisers, the new products are ready-mixed and integrated. The suspension of stabilisers in the melted emulsifiers, followed by an advanced spray-crystallisation process, creates a uniform, free-flowing powder. This means much easier handling – with no premixing with other dry ingredients required before addition to the mix.

Palsgaard® LBG-free integrated emulsifier/stabiliser blends

Key features

  • Custom-designed emulsifier/stabiliser blends for a variety of ice cream and plant-based frozen desserts
  • Cost-effective alternative to LBG- based ice cream / plant-based frozen dessert blends
  • Palm-free options available
  • PHO-free options available
  • Allergen-free
  • Kosher / Halal certified
  • Produced in CO2-neutral factories

Key benefits

  • Cost-reductions without quality loss
  • Stability against fluctuating LBG prices
  • Provides creamy, rich and warm-eating ice creams / plant-based frozen desserts
  • Facilitated incorporation of air into the mix, giving a high and stable overrun
  • Heat-shock protection and storage stability
  • Consultancy and technical support available from our global applications team

Considering going LBG-free? Imagine the benefits

Claus encourages manufacturers to ask themselves a series of questions: “How has the cost of LBG affected your contribution margin? If you don’t address the issue, who’s going to pick up the cost? How much could a new solution reduce the cost of your product? And if your competitors solve the problem before you, what could happen to your market share?”

“The benefits aren’t necessarily the same for every customer,” he adds. “It might be the opportunity for a shorter ingredient list and a leaner label. It might be the security of supply you get from going LBG-free. It might simply be the value of finding a cost-effective new stabiliser without a drop in quality.”

Although the new products offer similar functionality to LBG, some recipe optimisation may be required. This is where Palsgaard’s global team of application specialists can help. Based in application centres across the world, they draw on the company’s 100 years of experience to offer a wealth of technical support to customers.

The new solutions are just part of Palsgaard’s growing range of emulsifier/stabiliser solutions for ice cream, with more in the pipeline.

Try our LBG-free emulsifier/stabiliser systems 

Contact us today to find out more about our LBG-free emulsifiers and stabiliser systems and order samples to try.

 

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