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By Devane Sharma

The low-sugar trend is gaining momentum as more consumers prioritize healthier diet choices. With one in ten adults worldwide living with diabetes, the demand for low-sugar food and beverages is rising.

In 2021, the reduced sugar food and beverages market had a market value of $46.18 billion, and it is expected to experience a CAGR of 8.9% from 2022 to 2030. Health concerns caused by the regular consumption of high-sugar products contribute to this growth.

To address these concerns, food and beverage manufacturers are exploring innovative solutions – and one promising ingredient is vegetable glycerin.

Derived from plant oils, vegetable glycerin offers a low glycemic index and the ability to replace sugar while maintaining taste and quality. Its versatility and ability to retain moisture make it an excellent choice for developing low-sugar alternatives in various product categories.

By leveraging vegetable glycerin, manufacturers can cater to health-conscious consumers without compromising on flavor or sensory experience.

This article explores the potential of vegetable glycerin to revolutionize the market for low-sugar food and beverages, providing healthier options for consumers worldwide.

What is vegetable glycerin?

Vegetable glycerin or glycerol, is a liquid derived from plant oils like palm, soy, and coconut. It is a versatile compound with various applications, including its use in the food industry.

In comparison, other types of glycerin may be derived from animal fats in combination with additives and various synthetic compounds. While both vegetable glycerin and glycerin share similar properties and applications, using vegetable glycerin ensures that it is suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets, appealing to a broader consumer base.

One of the key properties of glycerin is its humectant nature. As a humectant, it exhibits the capacity to attract and retain moisture. This attribute renders it highly suitable as a natural baking preservative since it aids in preserving the moisture and freshness of baked goods for an extended duration.

The moisture-retaining abilities of vegetable glycerin play a vital role in enhancing the quality and shelf life of various food products.

Vegetable glycerin is also considered a great sweetener. It has a sweet taste and is approximately 60% as sweet as traditional sugar. This sweetness makes it a desirable ingredient for those who want to reduce their sugar intake while still enjoying a taste of sweetness in their food and beverages.

How does vegetable glycerin work as a sweetener?

Vegetable glycerin functions as a sweetener due to its chemical composition and properties as a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are a type of carbohydrate that closely resembles the taste of sugar and other carbohydrates but have fewer calories.

Often used for baking, glycerol also has a lightly sweet taste and the consistency of a thick syrup, making it just as great for beverages and smoothies.

As mentioned, one of the significant advantages of vegetable glycerin as a sweetener is its impact on blood sugar levels. Excessive sugar consumption has been linked to the increased prevalence of population-level diabetes. Unlike traditional sugars, vegetable glycerin has a low glycemic index (GI).

The low GI of vegetable glycerin means it has a minimal effect on blood glucose, making it a suitable option for individuals with diabetes or those looking to manage their blood sugar levels.

Other uses of glycerin

Due to its unique properties, glycerin finds applications in a wide range of industries. Here are some of the many uses of glycerin:

  • Food & Beverage Industry: Besides its role as a sweetener and humectant in low-sugar products, glycerin is used as a food additive and preservative. It is frequently utilized to maintain the moisture content of food items, preventing excessive evaporation and, in turn, extending their shelf life.
  • Cosmetics & Home Care Products: Glycerin is a common ingredient in skincare, haircare, and personal care products. It acts as a humectant, drawing moisture to the skin and helping to keep it hydrated.
  • Pharmaceuticals: It is used as an excipient, a substance added to medications to provide stability, enhance solubility, or improve drug delivery. Glycerin can be found in cough syrups, liquid medications, and oral care products.
  • Animal Feed: Utilized in animal feed formulations as an energy source and to improve palatability. It is mainly used in livestock and poultry feed to provide supplemental calories and enhance the taste of the feed.
  • Industrial Use: In the industrial sector, glycerin is used to produce resins, paints, inks, and lubricants. Due to its low freezing point and non-toxic nature, it is also utilized as a solvent and antifreeze agent.

Note that glycerin used in different industries may undergo specific purification processes to meet the required quality standards. The grade and purity of glycerin can vary depending on the intended application.

Is vegetable glycerin safe?

Using vegetable glycerin as a sweetener or humectant in small amounts is generally considered safe. However, it is important to ensure that the glycerin used is of high purity for it to be suitable for human consumption.

The purity standards for glycerin as a humectant food additive require that the levels in the finished product do not exceed 0.1%, as set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This ensures that the glycerin is free from potentially harmful contaminants.

Vegetable glycerin is also considered to be eco-friendly and biodegradable. When released into the environment, it has a low potential for bioaccumulation, meaning it does not build up in living organisms over time.

While vegetable glycerin is generally well-tolerated, bear in mind that, like any ingredient, some individuals may have sensitivities or allergies to it. But overall, when used within the recommended limits and sourced from reputable suppliers, vegetable glycerin is considered safe for consumption and environment-friendly.

Musim Mas MASCEROL® High-Quality and Sustainable Glycerin

A natural and sustainable alternative to traditional sugars, vegetable glycerin is a valuable ingredient in low-sugar food and beverages. With its properties as a sweetener and humectant, glycerin helps maintain moisture, improve texture, and extend the shelf life of food products.

Musim Mas, a leading sustainable palm oil player and the first Indonesian RSPO member, offers premium glycerin products. The glycerin we produce is manufactured in a state-of-the-art Dutch production facility using advanced glycerine distillation techniques that meet quality, sustainability, and environmental standards.

Our MASCEROL® glycerine portfolio provides varying concentrations of glycerol and meets stringent quality standards, such as European Pharmacopoeia, American, British, and Japanese requirements.

By incorporating Musim Mas’ glycerin products, food manufacturers can enhance the quality and sustainability of their low-sugar food and beverage offerings, meeting the demands of health-conscious consumers while adhering to strict quality and ethical standards.

While the focus here is on the food industry, it’s worth mentioning that Musim Mas’ glycerin is also utilized in diverse applications beyond food, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and industrial sectors.

Musim Mas ensures compliance with certifications like Kosher, Halal, Non-GMO, RSPO-MB, and Non-Palm, catering to specific customer needs.