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Shortening generally refers to hydrogenated oils having semi-solid consistency and shelf-stability. Adding extra hydrogen atoms to the vegetable fats, consequently turning them into solids from a liquid state is referred as hydrogenation. Shortening fats have been named in such a way because shortening refers to the ability of these fats to reduce/shorten the gluten strands – gluten is a structural protein present in the baked commodities. Shortening fats thus produce tender and melt-in-mouth texture by shortening the tougher gluten strands.
The shortening fats market is driven by their functional superiority, improved formulations of shortening fats and widening applications of such shortened fats. Shortening fats provide a lubricating effect in food matrices and also influence the sensory properties especially the texture and flavor attributes.
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The global market has witnessed rapid utilization of shortening fats across a diverse range of baked commodities such as pastries, cookies, cakes among others. Shortening fats have wide range of functional role to play by contributing to softness, texture, mouth-feel, structural integrity, air incorporation, heat transfer, as well as shelf life of the food products.
It is well-known and well-accepted fact that the majority of shortening fats available in the market are composed of unhealthy saturated fats and in some case, they also contain a considerable amount of trans-fats. The health concerns amidst rising obesity and other lifestyle epidemics for unhealthy fats coupled with rapid emergence of substitutes such as dietary fibers with partial replacement efficiencies are some of the major hindrances to global shortening fats market.
The future development and growth trajectory of global shortening fats market hinges on the improvised formulations that are recognized as acceptable among common consumers. Companies operating in shortening fats market should capitalize on “premiumization” and “artisanal & indulgent” baked commodities as these products require considerable amount of fats to produce desirable sensory properties.
Some of the major companies that are present in the global shortening fats market are AAK USA, Inc., Bunge Limited, Cargill Incorporated, Conagra Foodservice, Inc., COFCO Group Co. Ltd., Wilmar International Ltd, Fuji Oil Asia Pte. Ltd., IFFCO INGREDIENTS, Namchow Holdings CO.,Ltd., and Palsgaard A/S.
Vegetable oils based shortenings remain one of the leading type in the global marketplace owing to the availability of raw materials, economical production and strong demands from end-use sectors. Vegetable oils based shortenings are extensively utilized in rolls, breads, hard baked goods, and cakes wherein liquid consistency is useful. Vegetable shortenings are also used in foodservice sectors, especially for deep-frying applications owing to the high smoke point which allows food to be cooked quickly at high temperatures without burning the oil. Processed shortenings have universal applicability – it has 100 percent fat coupled with good plasticity. Shortenings can also be stored safely at room temperatures, eliminating the need for refrigeration.
Bakery remains a clear leader in the application areas of shortening fats wherein the functional importance of these fats is irreplaceable completely. Shortenings have been increasingly used for creaming applications due to its ability to incorporate large volumes of air bubbles, which results in a fine, delicate structure in the end product. Cookies and cakes have one of the largest amount of shortenings used, second only to the sugar. Cake or icing shortening as it is popularly known contains emulsifiers in its formulation to maintain the hygroscopic nature of cakes.
North America and Europe are two prominent markets for shortening fats with the well-established bakery sector. Consumers are now exhibiting greater inclination to “healthy indulgence” especially in the freshly baked commodities such as breads, cakes, pies, and rolls. The bakery market in these developed regions is still fragmented, consisting of huge numbers of independent and private label bakers. This represents a huge potential for shortening fats manufacturers, provided that the consumer’s demand for organic, clean-label, and highly convenient products are adequately addressed. The manufacturers should work on reformulating the Trans fatty acid content of shortenings. Large bakery giants such as Grupo Bimbo, S.A.B. have already started incorporating low to zero trans-fatty acids based shortenings in their products.
Europe shortenings fat markets are also expected to witness decent growth rates with value-addition playing a pivotal role. Fortified shortenings, especially the ones containing essential oils and other micronutrients have witnessed greater popularity among bakers and consumers alike. Such shortenings are viewed as a superior quality ingredient based on the functionality as well as on the nutritional profiles. The Asia Pacific shortening fats market is expected to witness fastest growth trajectory in the foreseeable future owing to mass-popularity of baked goods and robust consumption dynamics.
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