Malic acid – overview
Read our overview of malic acid – a product of various applications in many industries. Learn in detail about its properties and how malic acid is applied in different products. Discover market insights and key regions expected to develop in the near future.
What is malic acid?
Malic acid is a naturally occurring acid present in unripe fruits and vegetables such as apples, grapes, berries, lemons, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, and rhubarb among others. The name malic comes from the Latin malum as the acid was first discovered in apples. Malic acid is also produced in the human organism during the Krebs cycle – a chemical process that generates energy. Benefits of malic acid include improved digestion, increased iron absorption, higher energy levels, kidney stones prevention, and enhanced oral health.
Malic acid extraction from natural plants is costly and therefore commercial products are usually obtained by chemical hydration of maleic or fumaric acid with the use of high temperatures and high pressure. The final product comes in the form of white, crystalline granules. Malic acid has a smooth, tart or sour taste and no foreign odors. It is highly soluble in water but has a lower hygroscopicity rate than citric acid. Malic acid has a high degradability rate by microorganisms such as yeasts.
In the food and beverage industry, malic acid is widely applied as a preservative E296. It is also commonly used as a sweetness or tartness enhancer in fruit and vegetable juices, powdered iced tea, carbonated soft drinks, jams, chewing gums, and candies. It prolongs the release of fruit flavors and creates a sensation of a stronger aroma. The product enhances and preserves the taste of dressings, sauces, and mayonnaise by preventing rancidification in fats and oils. In the wine industry, malic acid is used as a basis for malolactic fermentation allowing the manufacturers to produce wines of softer taste.
Malic acid is also applied as an ingredient in animal nutrition. In the swine diet, the product has shown positive effects on weight gains in piglets, diminishing mortality rates, and lower occurrence of diarrhea. In cattle and sheep diet, malic acid supplementation is responsible for the promotion of growth, increased milk production, enhanced overall performance, and improved feed efficiency.
In the cosmetic and personal care sectors, malic acid is applied due to its pH controlling properties in self-tanning creams, soaps, anti-acne products, and anti-aging creams. Its exfoliating properties find use in cleansing gels and facial scrubs. Malic acid is also applied in mouthwashes and toothpaste as it diminishes the taste of other chemicals. In the pharmaceutical sector, the product is used to treat dry mouth, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Moreover, it is an ingredient of syrups and tablets.
In 2020, the global malic acid market reached the value of $ 189.5 million and is expected to expand at a CAGR of 5.3% within the next five years. By 2026 the global malic acid is expected to be worth $ 258 million. The Asia Pacific market is projected to experience the fastest growth owing to the rise in disposable income propelling the demand for natural preservatives in food and beverage products, especially in China. In the North American region, the malic acid market development is expected due to the increasing demand for cosmetics and personal care products.
The largest producer of malic acid in Canada – Bartek Ingredients – has expanded its capacity in 2021 by 10,000 metric tonnes to support the product demand in the North American region. The European region is expected to further develop due to the EU commission and other health authorities approving the use of malic acid in foodstuffs. In Latin America, the increasing demand for packaged foods and beverages is propelling the market expansion. Nevertheless, the factors that may constraint the global market developments are high investment costs for production plants and fluctuating prices of the raw materials.