Food Thickeners Market Set to Reach USD 29.7 Billion by 2033, Growing at 6.0% CAGR

Tajammul Pangarkar
Tajammul Pangarkar

Updated · Jul 10, 2024

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Introduction

The global food thickeners market is projected to expand significantly, anticipated to grow from USD 16.6 billion in 2023 to USD 29.7 billion by 2033, registering a CAGR of 6.0% over the forecast period from 2024 to 2033. This growth is primarily driven by increasing consumer demand for processed and convenience foods, where thickeners are extensively used to enhance texture and viscosity. Moreover, the rising prevalence of gluten intolerance and the subsequent demand for gluten-free thickening agents are expected to further propel market expansion.

However, the market faces challenges, including stringent regulatory standards for food additives and the volatility of raw material prices, which could impact production costs and market stability. Additionally, consumer awareness regarding the health effects of synthetic thickeners may pose a constraint, pushing manufacturers to innovate with natural and organic alternatives.

Recent developments in the industry include advancements in the extraction and application technologies of natural thickeners, which are gaining traction due to their health benefits and minimal processing. Key market players are also focusing on sustainable practices, as evidenced by increased investment in environmentally friendly production processes. These trends not only address consumer demands for healthier food options but also comply with tightening global regulations on food safety and quality, setting the stage for continued market growth despite the challenges faced.

Recent developments in the food thickeners industry reveal significant activity among key players such as Cargill, Inc., Archer Daniels Midland Company, DuPont De Nemours, Inc., and Tate & Lyle PLC. These developments have ranged from acquisitions and new product launches to strategic innovations aimed at addressing the evolving needs of the food industry.

Cargill, Inc. has been particularly active, marked by their acquisition of Sanderson Farms in collaboration with Continental Grain, forming a new entity, Wayne-Sanderson Farms. This acquisition enhances Cargill’s capabilities in the poultry sector and expands its market presence​​. Additionally, Cargill received the 2023 BIG Innovation Award for its leadership in transforming the food and agriculture systems, showcasing its commitment to innovation​​. The company also launched various food thickeners and continues to lead in environmental and supply chain innovations​​.

Archer Daniels Midland Company has not been highlighted in the recent specific acquisitions or product launches in the food thickeners market. However, ADM is well-known for its continuous enhancement of its product portfolio and strategic acquisitions across its various business segments, which likely include developments related to food thickeners.

Tate & Lyle PLC continues to innovate in this sector, although specific recent actions were not detailed in the latest data. Historically, Tate & Lyle have been pioneers in the development and marketing of food thickeners and are likely maintaining a strong focus on product innovation and strategic market expansion.

Food_Thickeners_Market_By_Size
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Key Takeaways

  • Market Value: The Food Thickeners Market was valued at USD 16.6 billion in 2023, and is expected to reach USD 29.7 billion by 2033, with a CAGR of 6.0%.
  • Type Analysis: Hydrocolloids dominated with 40.1%; essential for their thickening and stabilizing properties.
  • Source Analysis: Plant-based thickeners led with 65.4%; significant for their natural and healthy appeal.
  • Application Analysis: Bakery & Confectionery dominated with 38.6%; crucial for texture enhancement in baked goods.
  • Dominant Region: North America held 39.5%; significant due to high demand in food processing and convenience foods.
  • Analyst Viewpoint: The food thickeners market is moderately saturated with strong competition. Future trends suggest increased demand for natural and clean-label ingredients.
  • Growth Opportunities: Companies can focus on product innovations, expanding applications in health foods, and exploring new markets to differentiate themselves.

Food Thickeners Statistics

  • Corn starch accounts for 80% of global starch production, with 40.92% of this being used in the food and beverage sector. It achieves a fineness of 99.94% through a 180 μm mesh (#80 mesh code).
  • In food applications, xanthan gum is typically used at concentrations of 0.5% or less. It can produce a significant increase in viscosity at a concentration of 1%.
  • The demand and production of xanthan gum have been increasing at an annual rate of 5–10%.
  • Major producers of xanthan gum in the US include Merck and Pfizer.
  • Xanthan gum has a shelf life of 36 months.
  • Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC) has a shelf life of 12 months and should be stored below 35°C in a clean, dry, well-ventilated warehouse away from odors. Its purity is greater than 99.5%.
  • Ultra-processed food consumption grew from 53.5% of total calories in 2001-2002 to 57% in 2017-2018.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts global cereal utilization to reach 2,856 million tonnes in 2024/25, reflecting the broader trends in food production and consumption that impact thickener usage.
  • The FAO reported that global coarse grain utilization is projected to increase by 0.8% to 1,529 million tonnes in 2024/25.
  • Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) in India reported an increase in processed food exports from $11.67 billion in 2020-21 to $13.26 billion in 2021-22.
  • India imports most of its thickening agent from China, France, and Germany and is the 3rd largest importer of thickening agent in the world.
  • The top 3 importers of thickening agent are Ukraine with 2,833 shipments followed by Russia with 1,969 and India at the 3rd spot with 1,381 shipments.
  • The U.S. import price index for foods, feeds, and beverages indicated a slight decrease of 1.6% from April to May 2024, despite an overall annual increase of 5.6% from May 2023 to May 2024.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated a 5.6% annual increase in the import price index for foods, feeds, and beverages.
  • In Great Britain, the food and drink sector employed 4.2 million people in 2022, accounting for 13.4% of total employment when including agriculture and fishing.

Emerging Trends

  • Natural Ingredients on the Rise: Consumers prefer natural food thickeners like agar-agar, pectin, and guar gum over synthetic ones. This trend is driven by the increasing demand for clean-label products, which contain fewer artificial additives and more recognizable ingredients. Natural thickeners are perceived as healthier and safer, aligning with the growing health-consciousness among consumers.
  • Growing Vegan and Gluten-Free Options: As more people adopt vegan and gluten-free diets, the demand for plant-based and gluten-free thickeners has surged. Ingredients such as xanthan gum, chia seeds, and tapioca starch are gaining popularity. These alternatives cater to specific dietary restrictions while providing the desired texture and consistency in food products.
  • Advancements in Starch-Based Thickeners: Innovation in starch technology is leading to improved starch-based thickeners. Modified starches are now better at providing desired textures and stability under various conditions, such as freezing and reheating. These advancements are particularly beneficial for processed foods, offering improved quality and shelf life.
  • Increased Use of Hydrocolloids: Hydrocolloids like carrageenan, gelatin, and cellulose are increasingly used for their multifunctional properties. They not only thicken but also stabilize, emulsify, and gel foods. This versatility makes hydrocolloids a valuable ingredient in a wide range of applications, from dairy products to bakery items.
  • Focus on Sustainable Sourcing: Sustainability is becoming a key factor in ingredient selection. Companies are seeking thickeners derived from sustainably sourced raw materials. This includes looking for suppliers who practice sustainable farming and harvesting, as well as developing thickeners from by-products of other industries, reducing waste and environmental impact.
  • Enhanced Functionalities: Food thickeners are being developed with enhanced functionalities to meet specific needs. For instance, thickeners that can withstand high temperatures, maintain viscosity in acidic environments, or provide added health benefits like fiber enrichment are gaining traction. These specialized thickeners cater to the growing demand for convenient, versatile, and health-promoting food products.

Use Cases

  • Clean Label Movement: Consumers increasingly demand foods with recognizable and natural ingredients. Food thickeners like agar-agar and pectin are gaining popularity as they align with the clean label trend, enabling manufacturers to offer products that are both wholesome and have the desired texture.
  • Dairy Alternatives Expansion: The market for dairy alternatives is expanding rapidly. Thickeners like carrageenan and xanthan gum are crucial in developing alternatives to traditional milk products that replicate the mouthfeel and texture of dairy, supporting the production of vegan and lactose-free options.
  • Gluten-Free Products: With the rise of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, there is a higher demand for gluten-free products. Thickeners such as cornstarch and tapioca are vital in replacing the texture and volume typically provided by gluten in baked goods, making them essential in gluten-free recipes.
  • Enhanced Frozen Foods: Thickeners play a significant role in improving the texture and stability of frozen foods, which are prone to textural degradation during freezing and thawing. Ingredients like guar gum and locust bean gum help maintain consistency and prevent ice crystal formation in frozen products.
  • Ready-to-Eat Meals: As consumer lifestyles become busier, the demand for convenient and quick meal options grows. Food thickeners are integral in ready-to-eat meals to ensure that they maintain their texture and consistency throughout their shelf life and after reheating.
  • Health and Nutrition Focus: The incorporation of thickeners not only enhances texture but can also contribute to the nutritional profile of food products. For instance, some thickeners add fiber or have low glycemic indices, supporting dietary requirements and contributing to satiety.

Key Players Analysis

Cargill, Inc. recently expanded its food thickeners portfolio with a range of modified food starches launched in February 2022, aimed at enhancing the texture and stability of food products. Additionally, in the latest fiscal year, Cargill reported a significant revenue increase to $177 billion, up 7% from the previous year, marking a record high for the company. This financial growth coincides with strategic acquisitions, including the Owensboro Grain Company, to boost its oilseed crush capacity, and Croda’s bio-based performance technologies business, enhancing its nature-based industrial solutions​​​​.

Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), another key player in the food thickeners market, has recently faced a slight downturn in its North American agricultural exports. However, ADM continues to invest in infrastructure to support strong origination volumes in South America and remains committed to strategic initiatives, including decarbonization, which are expected to enhance its earnings. ADM has also opened a new Customer Creation and Innovation Center in Manchester, which will serve as a hub for food innovation in the UK​​.

DuPont De Nemours, Inc. is actively participating in the food thickeners market, focusing on hydrocolloids, proteins, and starch-based products. Despite a recent decrease in overall revenue, DuPont continues to be recognized for its comprehensive range of food thickeners and innovative approaches in the sector. The company, a prominent player in the North American market, maintains a strategy of ongoing product development and market expansion, which positions it well within the competitive landscape of the food thickeners industry. The market itself is expected to see considerable growth, propelled by increasing demand in bakery, confectionery, and processed food applications​​​​​​​​​​.

Tate & Lyle PLC is a significant entity in the global food thickeners market, particularly noted for its innovation in starch and hydrocolloid solutions. The company’s expertise in providing thickeners that cater to a variety of food applications—from bakery products to dairy—highlights its strategic focus on enhancing texture and stability in food products. As part of its growth strategy, Tate & Lyle continues to invest in new technologies and market expansion to strengthen its position in the global market, benefiting from the broader industry trends of health-conscious food choices and the demand for processed foods​​​​​​​​​​.

CP Kelco, a key player in the food thickeners market, has recently been acquired by Tate & Lyle for $1.8 billion, a move expected to significantly boost revenue growth and expand its specialty ingredient solutions globally. This acquisition aligns with Tate & Lyle’s strategic transformation to focus on healthier, tastier, and more sustainable food and beverage solutions. CP Kelco specializes in nature-based ingredients like pectin and specialty gums, enhancing Tate & Lyle’s existing capabilities in sweetening, mouthfeel, and fortification​​​​​​.

Kerry Inc., in 2023 maintained a robust presence in the food thickeners market, leveraging its expertise in taste and nutrition to adapt to the clean label trend that favors natural over synthetic thickeners. This strategic alignment is aimed at meeting growing consumer demands for healthier and more transparent food ingredients. Additionally, the company reported solid business performance, with volume growth surpassing market trends, enhanced profitability, and strong cash generation, demonstrating resilience and adaptability in challenging market conditions​​​​.

Ingredion Incorporated, a key player in the food thickeners market, recently launched the PureCircle™ Clean Taste Solubility Solution, a breakthrough in clean-label stevia sweeteners. This new product is over 100 times more soluble than traditional stevia and provides an unmatched taste experience. Additionally, the company received UK approval for its bioconversion process for producing steviol glycosides, enhancing their offerings in sugar reduction solutions. Ingredion reported annual net sales of approximately $8 billion in 2023, reflecting its robust market position and continuous innovation in food ingredients​.

Ashland Inc., a leader in specialty ingredients, has announced an expansion of its production capacity for Aquaflow™ synthetic thickeners to meet rising demand. The new facility in Calvert City, KY, will significantly increase the global capacity for these thickeners, catering to the architectural and industrial coatings markets. In a recent strategic move, Ashland introduced Aquaflow™ ECO-300, a biocide-free, nonionic synthetic thickener designed for waterborne coatings, enhancing sustainability and performance. Ashland continues to innovate, serving various markets including food and beverage, with a focus on sustainability and advanced solutions​.

TIC Gums, Inc., a significant player in the food thickeners market, focuses on innovative gum and hydrocolloid solutions to enhance food texture and stability. Recently, the company has expanded its portfolio with advanced gum blends designed for clean-label applications, addressing the rising consumer demand for natural ingredients. TIC Gums, now a part of Ingredion Incorporated, continues to leverage its expertise to meet diverse industry needs, contributing to Ingredion’s substantial annual revenue of approximately $8 billion in 2023​​.

FDL Limited, active in the food thickeners market, specializes in supplying high-quality starches and gums for various food applications. The company recently introduced new natural thickening agents aimed at improving texture in plant-based and gluten-free products, aligning with the growing health-conscious consumer trends. FDL Limited’s strategic innovations and market responsiveness have solidified its position in the global food thickeners market, catering to the increasing demand for specialty food ingredients​​.

Medline Industries, Inc. has made significant strides in the food thickeners market by acquiring the surgical solutions business from Ecolab, Inc., enhancing their product portfolio and market presence. This acquisition is expected to strengthen Medline’s capabilities in providing innovative solutions for various sectors, including food and beverage. The company’s recent expansion of its in-house testing lab further underscores its commitment to quality and innovation, positioning it well for growth in the food thickeners market​.

Darling Ingredients Inc., a leader in sustainable ingredients, reported a net income of $81.2 million for Q1 2024, despite a year-over-year decrease. The company continues to enhance its position in the food thickeners market through its innovative use of bio-nutrients. Darling’s commitment to circularity and sustainability drives its growth, transforming animal and food industry by-products into valuable ingredients that support food, feed, and fuel sectors​.

Conclusion

The food thickeners market is poised for significant growth in the coming years, driven by increasing demand from various end-use industries such as bakery, confectionery, dairy, and beverages. The rising consumer preference for convenience foods and the growing need for gluten-free and low-fat products are also key factors contributing to market expansion.

Advances in food processing technologies and the development of innovative thickeners with enhanced properties are expected to further boost the market. Additionally, the growing awareness of the health benefits associated with natural thickeners is likely to create new opportunities for market players. Overall, the food thickeners market is set to experience robust growth, supported by evolving consumer preferences and technological advancements.

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Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar is a tech blogger that frequently contributes to numerous industry-specific magazines and forums. Tajammul longstanding experience in the fields of mobile technology and industry research is often reflected in his insightful body of work. His interest lies in understanding tech trends, dissecting mobile applications, and in raising a general awareness of technical know-how. When he’s not ruminating about various happenings in the tech world, he can be usually found indulging in his next favorite interest - table tennis.