The latest research from Global Industry Analysts Inc. (GIA) has found that the food encapsulation market is projected to reach about US$39 billion by the year 2015.
And it’s no wonder. Food encapsulation plays a vital role in food processing.
According to GIA, food encapsulation is critical for delivering optimum flavour in foods and ensuring that foods offer the “finest sensory experience.”
Encapsulation’s critical role
Without food encapsulation flavours tend to deteriorate along the various manufacturing and packaging processes.
In GIA’s latest report, Food Encapsulation: A Global Strategic Business Report, the company explains that the encapsulation of flavours and fragrances in food is a long-established, commercial practice.
Encapsulation enhances the appearance, taste and flavour of foods, prevents oxidation, nutritional loss and evaporation of core, sensitive ingredients that add value to the final processed food.
Encapsulation technologies transform food processing
The development of food encapsulation technologies, such as, microencapsulation, nanoencapsulation, macroencapsulation, and hybrid technologies have over the years radically transformed the method of food processing and preservation.
Expansion of application areas away from the conventional taste masking, colour masking, oxidation and flavour stabilization towards food fortification, and its use as biocatalyst immobilization system, spells opportunities.
Encapsulation: growing opportunities
While the recent economic turmoil wreaked havoc on consumers’ personal financial security and presented numerous challenges for the food industry in general, food encapsulation technologies have remained largely shielded from the recessionary blues.
Growing health awareness and time constraints and the ensuing demand for functional and convenience foods has and will continue to drive growth and development of the food encapsulation market.
In the upcoming years, food encapsulation technologies are forecast to find lucrative niche applications in the gourmet food segment.
Additionally, increased interest and adoption of these technologies will be witnessed in the infant, functional, and health food segments where food fortification ranks important and where nutritional and therapeutic ingredients need to be protected against flavour, taste and nutritional degradation.
Venture capital investments are expected to be especially high in the functional foods segment, given the rapidly aging population and growing demand for foods with disease prevention benefits.
Like any other industry, several challenges continue to frustrate the use of encapsulation technologies in food processing, such as, maintaining optimum physical stability of encapsulated food, particularly nano-encapsulated foods, during processing and packaging.
Ingredient manufacturers need to still iron out issues encountered in reduction in capsule sizes – microencapsulation, and controlled targeted release behaviours.
It is therefore not surprising that a large percentage of research projects are focused on shrinking capsule sizes, and enhancing adequate bioavailability of encapsulated ingredients.