The company said it is also responding to recent raw material fluctuations in non-GMO lecithin. The coronavirus pandemic has had a negative effect on the supply chain. As a result, non-GMO soy lecithin – which still has the dominant market share – quality and availability have been greatly reduced, Sternchemie said. Because of this, other botanical sources such as sunflower and rapeseed, as well as alternative growing regions, in Europe for example, are becoming more and more important.
Sternchemie is responding to the market changes with new partnerships and an expanded product portfolio.
“We’ve positioned ourselves strategically, in the European non-GM lecithin market in particular,” said Dr Roland Rabeler, business development manager at Sternchemie.
“With several partnerships, some of them exclusive, and a wide range of sources, we can effectively buffer fluctuations in raw material quality and availability, to assure continued functionality and supply. Thus, we’re systematically expanding our role with customers who have sensitive applications such as baby food producers.”
For the product portfolio, that means focusing more on rapeseed and the introduction of new quality standards in many areas.
“With the introduction of a ‘Select’ grade we’re documenting the fact that we use specially selected raw materials for these products and apply special quality parameters, including strict controls of contaminants,” Rabeler said.
Sunflower lecithin alone cannot fill the gap in non-GMO lecithin. This means Sternchemie is focusing more on rapeseed, with a functionality very similar to soy lecithin in many applications. The existing rapeseed portfolio is being expanded with new solutions to offer full-function alternatives to soy lecithin, especially in situations where flavor and oxidation problems can arise, such as in chocolate or instant products.
Sternchemie is also broadening its SternPhil range of hydrolyzed products, especially in view of the growing market for plant-based products.
Rabeler said, “Hydrolyzed lecithin is easy to incorporate into products, has outstanding emulsifying properties, and interacts effectively with proteins. This can be a great advantage, especially in plant-based products like non-dairy alternatives.”