Tara gum – overview

Read our overview of tara gum – a natural ingredient offering a range of applications. Learn how tara gum is obtained and what are the product’s most valued properties. Take a look at the major developments in the market and projections for its development.

What is tara gum?

Tara gum, also known as Peruvian carob, is a fully natural ingredient widely used as a food additive. It is produced from the seeds of Caesalpinia spinosa – a plant from the Leguminosae family. The tree grows in South America in the regions of Peru and Bolivia and bears fruits between April and December. These fruits are handpicked and sun-dried before further processing. Tara gum is obtained by grinding the endosperm from the seeds found in fruits into a white or yellowish powder. Tara gum is sourced and processed naturally without the use of chemical solvents. It is highly soluble in warm water and less soluble in cold liquids. It is odorless and tasteless and provides a good flavor release in food products. The product is also easily mixed with other hydrocolloids for increased viscosity and gel elasticity.

Application

Tara gum has a variety of applications, mainly in the production of foodstuffs and cosmetics. In the food industry, it is an approved food additive listed under the code E417. Tara gum is suitable for halal, kosher, and vegan diets. The product has an extensive range of properties used in the manufacture of foods, including an extensive portfolio of low-fat goods. Tara gum is characterized by excellent thickening and viscosity improvement properties widely used in products such as condiments, sauces, dressings, jellies, jams, fruit fillings, dairy-based desserts, puddings, and yogurts. Its water-retention abilities provide soft texture, moisture, and prolonged freshness in baked goods such as bread, buns, cakes, and gluten-free baked items. The use of tara gum prevents ice crystals formation in frozen products such as ice-creams, sorbets, and desserts.

In meat-based products, it is responsible for water retention, gel structure improvement, and meat replacement in goods such as sausages, frankfurters, cooked hams, hot dogs, and hamburgers. In spreads and cheese-based items, the product improves the viscosity, provides a shiny surface, and reduces whey syneresis.

The texture-improving and moisture-retaining properties of tara gum are also used in animal feed manufacture for livestock and pets. In poultry and cattle diets, the product has been proved to promote growth and prevent diseases.

In the cosmetic industry, tara gum is used as an emulsifier and stabilizer in toothpaste, creams, and skins gels. It also has excellent hydrating properties applied in body creams, face masks, and lotions. The product acts as a thickener and texture enhancer in exfoliating scrubs and face gels. Tara gum also finds use in the pharmaceutical and paper industries.

Market developments

A major market development took place in November when a French supplier of natural ingredients, Nexira announced its acquisition of a Swiss-based company UNIPEKTIN – one of the key global producers of tara gum. Another significant purchase was made in October by a U.S. company Tilley Co. specializing in hydrocolloid ingredients for the production of food, beverages, animal nutrition, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals. Tilley acquired Ireland-based Ingredient Solutions – a major provider of non-GMO and organic ingredients for the North American market.

In 2021, the skyrocketing prices for locust bean gum forced the producers to seek cheaper alternatives of similar properties, such as tara gum. The sudden demand propelled the prices for the product which is now three to four times its usual price, which may limit its use. However, the supply of tara gum is much lower than that of locust bean gum and the shortage is expected to continue.

Market outlook

The global tara gum market reaches the value of $2.3 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% to an estimated $5.23 billion within the next 6 years. The Latin American market owes the largest share due to the availability of raw materials. The Asia Pacific region is expected to mark the fastest growth due to the rise in disposable income as well as the customers’ interest in both low-fat foods and cosmetics produced from natural ingredients. The North American market is projected to rank second in terms of the highest revenue, based on the booming demand for food and beverage items.

The global market development is projected due to the increasing demand for food and beverage products, popularization of tara gum usage in the baby food sector, and growing interest in low-calorie and reduced-fat foodstuffs. Tara gum is a cost-effective alternative for guar gum, and therefore the rising prices of the latter are also expected to propel the market expansion for the product. The use of tara gum in the cosmetic sector is projected to propel market growth as consumers are shifting towards natural ingredients and sustainably resourced materials. However, the global tara gum market is expected to face some challenges including a limited supply of raw materials and high availability of synthetic gums.