Malic acid is a four carbon dicarboxylic organic acid that is essentially synthesized in all living beings. It is responsible for the mildly sour taste in fruits. Malic acid has two steroeisomeric forms; L-malic acid and D-malic acid, however, only L-malic acid is the natural form. It is primarily utilized as a food additive for various applications such as flavor enhancement, bring tartness or sourness, preservation and as an acidulant or pH control. Malic acid is prominently employed for its dual functionality as a flavor enhancer and a preservative. Malic acid is produced industrially from maleic anhydride. The process involves double hydration of maleic anhydride producing a racemic mixture of the two isomers of malic acid. The two enantiomers in the mixture can be later segregated by chiral resolution of the obtained recemic mixture.
Malic acid is primarily used as a food additive for enhancing flavor (tartness/sourness) and as a preservative in food & beverages. The market is driven by the increasing adoption of convenience food and beverage products due to busy lifestyle of the urban population. Further with increasing population there is great potential for synthetic foods especially to serve the fast lifestyle of urban populations across the world. Furthermore, introduction of new food and beverage products with a variety of flavors, giving an essence of fruits from all corners of the world, is expected to boost demand for flavorant and preservative product such as malic acid.
Malic acid helps impart a pleasant taste to the food and beverages. It aids in the masking of any unpleasant aftertastes of artificial sweeteners, antioxidants, amino acids, nutraceuticals, fibers, vitamins or plant extracts. There is an increase in the consumption of nutritional bars such as cereals, sports & energy bars as well as energy and protein drinks with fortified & enhanced water for sports and health beverages. This category of foods and beverages is growing rapidly in North America and Europe, where there is a high percentage of urban population. Further general awareness regarding health issues and obesity is causing a shift toward healthier foods and beverages, which in turn is expected to fuel demand for malic acid. Malic acid can offer longer shelf life to the products with its antimicrobial properties and pH controlling ability. Malic acid is a major constituent of almost all fruit flavored liquids and powders used in food & beverages across the world.
In terms of geography, the rapidly expanding market in the emerging BRICS nations and the developing countries is anticipated to fuel the demand for malic acid. The rising disposable income of the general population is improving the purchase power parity of the people in these regions, which in turn is adding to the demand for household convenience products. Furthermore, rapid urbanization in these high GDP nations is instilling a change in the lifestyle of people and demand for healthy convenience products to compensate for the lack of time. Additionally with better infrastructure and technological capabilities the market penetration of the food and beverage manufacturing companies has increased greatly resulting in improved sales and more demand for malic acid. In North America and Europe the rising awareness and health consciousness has concluded in a shift towards foods and beverages with health benefits.
Some of the key players in the malic acid market include Bartek, Novozymes, Purac, The Chemical Company and Fuso Chemical Company Ltd.
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