In the food industry, lecithin is used as an emulsifier, which helps mix and stabilize ingredients that would otherwise separate. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in plant-based lecithin as a more sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional animal-derived lecithin.
Lecithin is a type of lipid that helps keep ingredients in a food product from separating. Apart from acting as an emulsifier in food product formulation, lecithin can be used to improve the texture and stability of a wide range of products, including but not limited to baked goods, dairy alternatives, and meat substitutes.
The main reason for its inclusion in food product formulations is that almost all plant-based lecithin is completely natural and is produced from crops such as soybeans, sunflowers, and rapeseed. It offers the same functional benefits as traditional animal-derived lecithin but is considered a more sustainable and ethical alternative by industry experts.
Two of the most commonly used types of plant-based lecithin are sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin. While sunflower lecithin is extracted from sunflower seeds, it’s prized for its neutral flavour. Soy lecithin, on the other hand, is derived from soybeans and is a versatile ingredient used in a wide range of food and beverage products.
To better understand the role of plant-based lecithin in food product formulation, let’s explore its benefits first; specifically of sunflower and soy lecithin.
Plant-based lecithin helps prevent ingredients from separating, resulting in a more stable final product. This improved stability reduces the risk of spoilage and extends the shelf-life of the product.
In addition to its stabilizing properties, lecithin also improves the texture and mouthfeel of food products. It makes them creamier, smoother, and more palatable, enhancing the overall consumer experience.
The improved stability and texture that plant-based lecithin provides can also extend the shelf-life of most food products. This, particularly, entices food and beverage manufacturers looking to reduce waste and increase the efficiency of their supply chain.
These are some general benefits that almost all plant-based lecithin provide. However, we’ll specifically focus on the benefits offered by sunflower and soy lecithin since the two are more prominently used in the F&B sector than any other plant-based lecithin.
Its neutral flavour and light yellow colour, make sunflower lecithin an ideal ingredient for food and beverage products; especially the ones that require a clean flavour profile.
Sunflower lecithin offers functional benefits similar to other types of plant-based lecithin, namely improved stability, enhanced texture and mouthfeel, and extended shelf-life. As already mentioned, its unique trait is the neutral flavour that makes it stand out.
It’s used in a wide range of food and beverage products, including baked goods, dairy alternatives, and meat substitutes. It is also used as a coating or release agent in baking and food processing, helping prevent food products from sticking to baking pans and processing equipment.
Like sunflower lecithin, soy lecithin offers improved stability, enhanced texture and mouthfeel, and extended shelf-life. It is also a more sustainable and ethical alternative to traditional animal-derived lecithin.
As an ingredient, it can be used in just about any food product that uses sunflower lecithin, be it baked goods, dairy alternatives, or meat substitutes. Similarly, it’s also used as a coating or release agent.
However, one thing that separates it from sunflower lecithin, other than its source, is the fact that soy lecithin is a mainstay ingredient in chocolate and confectionery products.
Plant-based lecithin is a versatile and functional ingredient that offers a wide range of benefits for food product formulation. Whether it's sunflower lecithin or soy lecithin, both types of plant-based lecithin offer improved stability, enhanced texture and mouthfeel, and extended shelf-life. This makes the two ideal ingredients for food and beverage manufacturers looking to improve the quality and sustainability of their products.
Its benefits and applications make plant-based lecithin a must-have ingredient for food and beverage manufacturers who are looking to produce high-quality products that can easily find their footing in an already competitive and crowded market. Whether you use sunflower lecithin or soy lecithin, both offer unique benefits and applications and can do wonders for your products.
So, if you're a food and beverage manufacturer considering incorporating plant-based lecithin into your formulation, partner with LECITEIN. We are a global supplier of plant-based lecithin with offices and warehouses in the UK, Europe, and the USA.
Our sunflower lecithin and soy lecithin variants are of the highest quality, meeting the highest standards of food safety and sustainability. With our wide range of products and global reach, we can provide you with the plant-based lecithin you need to create high-quality, stable, and sustainable food and beverage products.