Smart solution: Emulsifier replacement with enzymes

11 February 20224 min reading

Mühlenchemie’s new Mulgazym product range helps the milling industry cope with price increases and shortages of emulsifiers

The baking and milling industry is currently facing price increases for emulsifiers, along with shortages in supply. The reasons for these are manifold. The global logistics situation is still tight and freight costs are high; in addition, prices for almost all vegetable oils including palm oil continue to rise, as production declines and supply is limited. As of today, in January 2022, the European market price of palm oil has doubled since July 2021. 

However, palm oil is an essential basic raw material for various emulsifiers, for instance for the mono- and diglycerides that are used as such or as raw materials for other emulsifiers. Additionally, there is a global shortage of tartaric acid, which is expected to continue throughout the year. This affects the availability of diacetyl tartaric acid ester of mono- and diglycerides (DATEM), which is a reaction product of acetic acid and tartaric acid with mono- and diglycerides. DATEM is a preferred emulsifier for flour treatment, and a dough improver. Millers and bakers are facing limited availability and increasing prices of DATEM, while their need for emulsifiers remains unchanged. 

The magic of enzymes

Enzymes can be suitable alternatives for emulsifiers, and provide a remedy for the current market situation. The function of emulsifiers is to combine water-loving (hydrophilic) and fat-loving (lipophilic) components of the dough. In baking, they ensure the fine and even mixing of doughs, resulting in improved dough processing and baked goods properties. This is achieved directly by adding emulsifiers such as DATEM. 

Enzymes, for their part, first convert the flour's own lipids into emulsifiers, which in turn achieve the desired effect. With the aid of special enzymes, a modification of the wheat flour’s lipids into very effective emulsifiers can be achieved during the baking process. Our enzymatic solutions convert completely lipophilic triglycerides into slightly polar mono- and diglycerides. From already partially lipophilic lipids such as phospholipids (lecithins) and galactolipids, they form even more hydrophilic molecules. This results in a noticeable shift towards the baking- active, hydrophilic (polar) lipid fractions with emulsifier properties. 

Figure 2: Recommended products

The visible positive effects of enzymes on baking performance are hence equivalent to those of emulsifiers. Enzymatic solutions markedly improve dough handling and machinability, and ensure the high quality of baked goods in terms of a fine, uniform crumb structure and increased volume. 

The right improver for the best replacement

To replace the emulsifiers used in the milling industry successfully, Mühlenchemie experts from its global R&D departments combined their enzyme knowledge and worked out synergies between the individual enzymes. Mühlenchemie has developed a new product range named “Mulgazym”, as a cost-optimized, natural replacement for emulsifiers (e.g. DATEM, SSL or mono- and diglycerides).

At the right dosage, all of these products provide the same improvements in dough processing and baking properties as emulsifiers, so that those can be partially or fully replaced.

Economic advantages of enzymes 

Apart from their technological performance, enzymes offer considerable economic potential. The reason is that enzymes are applied at much lower dosages than emulsifiers. On average, enzyme solutions are dosed 10 to 20 times lower than emulsifiers. Taking into consideration the recent price increase of emulsifiers, the cost-in-use comparison of both products underlines the economic efficiency of enzymes. 

Figure 3: Comparison of baking results (Sandwich, 120 min proof time; basic treatment: ascorbic acid)

A low dosage leads to further economic benefits. It implies smaller order quantities, which in turn result in lower transport costs. With current freight rates being at a peak level, the reduction of order quantities has a significant price impact. Storage costs can also be reduced, when, for example, instead of 100 cardboard boxes, only 5 have to be stored. Lastly, the clean label approach of enzyme-based solutions increases product attractiveness.

Contact Mühlenchemie for further information. 

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