Insight: Researching lecithin ingredients delivers value to customers | Bunge Loders Croklaan
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Insight: Researching lecithin ingredients delivers value to customers
Collaborative scientific research with the University College Cork
October 21, 2020
Dr Daniel Cossuta, Dr Francesca Bot and Dr Seamus O'Mahony

Bunge Loders Croklaan continuously improves its in-house capabilities and works with experienced experts in the field in order to develop comprehensive new understanding of the inter-relationships between chemical composition, functional properties and technological performance of lecithin ingredients in food applications.
As a result, the company has initiated an innovative collaborative scientific research project with University College Cork (UCC) in Ireland. The project's findings, including detailed chemical composition, and rheological and emulsification properties, help us gain a better understanding of the functional behavior and interactions of lecithin ingredients from a wide range of plant sources across applications, such as, beverages, infant formula and nutritional dairy powders. Bunge Loders Croklaan is committed to using these findings to deliver innovative, tailor-made solutions to global food manufacturers.

Highly versatile food ingredient
Lecithin is used as ingredient in many types of food products. These include infant formula, nutritional beverages, instantized powders, chocolate, confectionery, bakery and convenience foods. It's also seen as a natural ingredient. So with consumers increasingly looking for healthier food choices, lecithin fits global demand for natural, clean label products. Lecithin is widely used by food formulators because of its main functionality as an emulsifier, but its ability to contribute excellent texture, mouthfeel and overall flavor intensity and improved wettability are also important. Our deeper knowledge of lecithin functionality now enables us to make the best choice when selecting the right type of lecithin for optimal results in food products.

Lecithin influence on nutritional dairy powder

Research partners
BLC: Bunge Loders Croklaan is a leading global producer and supplier of sustainable plant-based specialty oils and fats for the food manufacturing industry and one of the world’s largest manufacturers of lecithin ingredients. Bunge Loders Croklaan employs 2500+ people globally, who partner with customers in more than 100+ countries to deliver world-class solutions every day.

UCC: The Food Ingredients Research Group, led by Dr Seamus O’Mahony, is one of the largest, internationally-recognised, globally-connected, multiple award-winning research groups within the School of Food and Nutritional Sciences at University College Cork. The group's research focuses on four main platforms: (1) ingredient development and functionality, (2) powder technology and engineering, (3) formulation science and technology and (4) bio-functional food ingredients. 

Solid platform for co-creation
This deeper knowledge of lecithins and their use, in combination with our expertise in lipid and fat chemistry and technology, enables us to accelerate new product development and reformulation initiatives. Lecithins are more than just simple food ingredients - it's important to understand their behavior in different food systems. Our lecithin-related studies provide a solid scientific platform for co-creation of customized food formulations together with you.

Plant-based sources
Lecithin was first isolated by the French chemist Theodore Nicolas Gobley in 1845. It was named after the Greek word for egg yolk, lekythos, from which Gobley first extracted lecithin. While egg yolk was the source of the first lecithin products, nowadays the majority of lecithins used in the food industry are derived from plant sources, including soybean, sunflower seed and rapeseed. This research is set up to better understand how the lecithins coming from these different plant sources show  different functionality, and hence determine which type of lecithin will show the best result in different applications.

Lecithin is composed primarily of mixtures of glycerophospholipids, with other minor components like triglycerides, fatty acids, tocopherols and glycolipids. In food applications, it is increasingly important to better understand the functional properties of lecithins and develop robust predictors of functionality in different applications.

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