人造食品香精和香料的未来

2017年6月21日09:55:37
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香精香料在我们人类生活中起着不可或缺的重要作用,而且这种作用在各种消费品等领域的比重也越来越大,比如我们的日用品类如:香皂、洗衣粉、牙膏、膏霜、香水、空气清洁剂,食品类如:熏香糖果、饼干、口香糖、汽水、酒等等,都需要添加香精香料才能确保品质。因此近年来全球对香料的需求也逐年快速的增长,但由于合成香料与天然香料的价格相差较大,而且天然香料受到天气、地域、人工、资金炒作等等不确定因素的影响,市场原料供应和价格也是起伏波动,非常不稳定,这使得寻找其他可以替代天然香料物质的方法成为必须,所以合成香料也成为了全球各领域生产者的首选。

 

谈到天然香料与合成香料,或许很多人会把它们等同于合成香料就是化学成分或者化学物质生产来的,这种想法本身就是一种错误,事实上所有的香料,不管是天然香料还是合成香料,都是由小分子化合物或者各种化学分子的混合体。但一提及到化学成分经常会让人有一种负面的联想,然而不管如何我们得明白我们所有的一切,不管是喝的水、吃的食物、我们的身体甚至我们所能看到的一切实际上都是化学物质组成的。

 

只是有时候选择和发展合成香料也是出于特定的目的,比如在糖果香精香料的选择和使用上,就得考虑不同糖果生产的工艺特点及产品特性,需要选择热稳定性较强的合成香料,以获得良好香气产品为前提。而在天然香料与人造香料的选择上,天然香料因为在标签上“天然”两字比较容易吸引消费者,但事实是大多数天然香料的味觉和嗅觉增效效果相对比较差,需要添加量较大,生产成本高,而且多数天然香料在风味特征上取决于水果、草药或原料成熟度不同,再加上加工过程中的变化,很难得到质量稳定的产品。而人造香精具有成本低,产品稳定,没有风味差异等特点,具有更强烈的热稳定性。

 

市场是由消费者来决定的,天然和合成香料各有利弊,消费者对于天然香料的趋从以及对合成香料的恐惧,大部分应该还是出于心理的一种暗示,但不管如何从产品成本、天然香料供应链以及市场需求来看,合成香料的未来还是一片光明的。

 

【一】天然香料与合成香料定义

天然香料是指取自自然界的、保持原有动植物香气特征的香料。通常利用自然界存在的芳香植物的含香器官和泌香动物的腺体分泌物为原料,采用粉碎、发酵、蒸馏、压榨、冷磨、萃取以及吸附等物理和生物化学方法进行加工提制而成。

合成香料,是人类通过自己所掌握的科学技术模仿天然香料,经过化学或生物合成的途径制备或创造出的某一“单一体”香料。香精是由人工调配出来的含有几种以上及至几十种香料,有时候含有溶剂和载体的混合物

天然香料的趋势如同星星之火在北美和欧洲的快速消费品市场迅速燎燃。特别是食品和饮料工业市场影响尤为深刻,许多国际大公司比如好时、雀巢、通用磨坊、家乐氏等都在承诺将会把合成香料和其他合成添加剂从他们的产品配方中移除。除了这种趋势,已经投入使用了合成香料及添加剂的消费品也已经受到最严厉的审核,一份美国的调查报告显示有超过82%的调查者相信就健康的角度而言,食品中使用合成香料或者其他合成物质比使用全天然香料和物质的食品更有弊处。

在过去十年间,天然香料的使用趋势受到日益增多的消费者对天然选择的诉求影响,已经成为欧美市场一种强有力的驱动力。全球领先的独立市场研究咨询公司——英敏特曾发布过一则声明“合成:公众头号敌人”成为影响2016年全球食品和饮料市场趋势的风向标。这种趋势在美国的市场上得到了空前绝后的认可度,根据Instantly调查机构的信息,许多美国人确信他们购买的产品里面如果没有了合成香料和其他合成成分会更加的健康,即使是比如零食、高热量餐饮等不健康的产业也觉得要使用天然香料。

这种天然香料的使用在欧美国家得到了认同,使得这一趋势在全球其他新兴市场也开始蔓延开来。根据全球著名的市场调研公司——尼尔森公司对他们的一份全球身心健康调查问卷显示,全球有超过40%以上的调查者觉得产品中没有合成香料和合成色素对于他们来说是非常重要的一项因素。同时,这种趋势和现象也不仅仅局限于我们的食品香料的添加上,就天然日化护肤品市场来说到2019年天然香料使用年增长率会达到一个10%的增长。

【二】强劲的需求,有限的供应

我们中的很多人或许就要问问题了,为什么我们的消费者都喜欢天然产品呢?健康的关注看起来应该是这个问题最明朗的答案。然而,即使各种学术和科研机构调查显示跟天然香料化学分子或者组成一样(或者说天然等同)的合成香料被证明安全、健康而且跟天然香料一样的功效,喜好天然产品的消费者仍然会继续选择天然产品。

罗津假定引导消费者购买决定没有具体的解释,喜好天然产品的消费者应该是受到思想道德伦理的吸引,天然产品能提供他们一种道德伦理的满足感和愉悦感,除了上面这种观念的支持证据,另外一个涉及欧洲调查参与者的研究表明某种食品有道德优越感会感觉食品尝起来味道更好,这为消费者未来的购买选择给予了积极的肯定。这对另外一个议题给出了解释,那就是天然产品与可持续发展之间有着作为一种作为伦理购买选择的感知关系。但事实上真的是这样吗?

对于潜在的关键天然原料的可持续供应方面我们现在就要提出问题了,现在全球市场对天然香料和原料的需求如此迅速增长,根据我们全球的人口数据,到2050年全球人口将增加将近30%预计到90亿人,那么问题就来了,我们能保障天然香料的供应满足得了这种需求吗?

要回答这个问题我们先从一个香料产品来分析一下

【三、天然香兰素与合成香兰素】

在过去几十年里,香夹兰就是作为天然香料供不应求最好的例子。现在,全球天从香夹兰中来源的天然香兰素占比不到所有香兰素香料的1%。合成香兰素的市场供应量大约在2万吨,而每一年只有大约40-50吨的天然香兰素是从香夹兰来源的。

除了香兰素其他常规的香料用法,香兰素还是巧克力产品中最常用的抵消可可粉苦味的添加剂。在过去几年里,雀巢和好时公司特别强调要只使用天然香料和天然添加剂来更换原来的配方,使得市场对天然香兰素以及香兰素提取物的需求有了一个戏剧性的增长。这种增长的带动造成了价格的急剧上涨,也促使了香精香料公司对天然香兰素替代物的资源争夺。

一些香料,包括香兰素,通过基因改良的酵母进行发酵反应来生产都被推荐为一种可替换关键性天然香料的可持续生产方法。不幸的是,公众对于转基因改造的想法仍然归类到比较抵制的人工合成香料中去,这也就对使用生物酵母发酵生产香料产品产生了负面的影响。各大公司更加倾向于寻求产品非转基因清洁标签的声明或许可能会比当下全天然成分的标签诉求要来得更加实际。

【四、激烈的争论】

此外,现行的食品和香料法规对涉及到通过生物基因改造过来的酵母发酵生产的香料的“天然”的定义已经越来越模糊。在美国,由于2015年FDA机构在涉及到食品和香料对于“天然”的定义上在寻求公众的评论,所以现在美国的情况对于未来生物发酵工程生产的香料来说可能有一种潜在的威胁。

当我们谈及到可持续性供应时,合成香料明显有这种优势。因为合成香料可以通过一些化学分子的拆分和组合,这样方式可以快速的完成和完成原料补充。而且它们通常来说生产成本更加低廉,在日益紧张的天然原料供应方面大大的缓解了原材料成本。当谈到安全性,现行的香精香料法规正在对每一个原料成分的安全性进行评估,而且大部分原料成分的纯度也要求达到非常高的水平。

除此之外,香精香料公司为了确保合符法规的食品安全,在供应链方面也在使用更加苛刻的质量控制标准以及在香料原料的纯度上提出更高的要求。在中学的科学教科书上我们对人工合成香料的定义是人类通过自己所掌握的科学技术模仿天然香料,经过化学或生物合成的途径制备或创造出的某一“单一体”香料。但是,跟天然香料相比,合成香料的纯度有非常高的要求,里面不纯的杂成分也相对比较少,而天然香料中可能有上百种或者更多的单体化合物,有些不纯的化学成分在色谱仪器上很难被追踪到。

在这个议题的探讨中我们有很多问题还没有得到答案。比如消费者对天然香料和合成香料的承受极限在哪里?假如天然原料的价格急剧上涨对于热衷于全天然成分的食品或者用品他们到底愿意出多少钱买单?假如某一些关键的天然香料供应链断裂无法再从自然界获取,他们愿意看到最喜爱的零食很难买到或者某一天就从商场的货架上消失不再有售了,或者更换掉了其他口味?

我们再来看看上面我们举的香兰素的例子,用天然的、非基因改造发酵生产的香兰素来替代全世界所有合成的香兰素似乎是遥遥无期,然而在香料界还有多少其他不可替代的香料原料跟香兰素的命运一样呢?全球所有的食品品牌都有能力承诺在香料方面绝不妥协以保证给消费者的产品的配料全部是纯天然的?考虑到天然香料年产量受到各种因素的影响,世界人口急剧增加的人口,中国、印度等其他国家和市场不断涌现的中产阶级规模,真的能实现可持续的全部用天然原料来制造产品?

或许只有时间能解答这些问题,

考虑到个人翻译的水平,为了避免误解,最后我们也附上了作者文章的英文原文供大家参考和学习。

 

The Future of Artificial Flavors & Ingredients

The natural trend has been spreading like wildfire throughout the U.S. andEuropean packaged goods markets. The food and beverage industry has beenespecially affected, with large companies such as Hershey’s, Nestlé, GeneralMills and Kellogg’s promising to remove artificial flavors and additives fromtheir products. Alongside this trend, harsh scrutiny has been cast on the useof artificial ingredients and flavors in consumer goods, with one surveyreporting that over 82% of US respondents believe that foods with artificialingredients are less healthy than their all natural counterparts [1].

The natural trend has been a powerful force in the US and European marketsover the last decade, driven by increasing consumer demand for naturalalternatives. Mintel announced “Artificials: Public Enemy No. 1” to be one ofthe key global food and drink trends for 2016 [2].

The trend has gained its widest acceptance in the US market, whereaccording to Instantly, many Americans believe that products are healthier whenartificial ingredients are removed, even in unhealthy categories such as snacksand frozen pizza [1].

Having gained acceptance in the US and Europe, the natural trend is nowemerging in markets around the world [2]. According to Nielsen, the absence ofartificial flavors and colors is very important for over 40% of globalrespondents to their Global Health & Wellness Survey [3]. Additionally, thetrend is not only limited to flavors. The natural personal care product marketis expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 10% through 2019 [4].

High Demand, Little Supply

This has many of us asking, why do consumers prefer natural products?Healthiness would seem to be the obvious answer. However, studies have shownthat even when it is demonstrated that an artificial ingredient is chemicallyidentical to a natural ingredient, and proven to be just as healthy andeffective as a natural ingredient, the majority of consumers with a preferencefor natural products still prefer the natural ingredient [5].

 

Rozin (2004) posits that given the absence of a concrete explanationguiding these decisions, the preference for natural products appeals to a moralideology and offers a moral satisfaction. In addition to providing supportingevidence to this notion, another study involving European participants shows thatbelieving one’s food is morally superior can actually make the food tastebetter, providing positive reinforcement for future buying choices[1]. Thisstrikes on another topic, the often perceived tie between natural products andsustaina­bility as an ethical buying choice. But is that truly the case?

Questions are beginning to arise concerning the potential available supplyof key natural ingredients. As the demand for natural ingredients is increasingrapidly, so is our global population, which is expected to grow nearly 30% by2050 to a potential nine billion people [7]. Can supply keep up with demand?

Market Analysis: Vanilla and Vanillin

Over the past years, vanilla has been the most notable example of demandfor naturals outpacing supply. Currently, less than one percent of vanillaflavor is sourced naturally from vanilla orchids [8]. The market for syntheticvanillin is approximately 20,000 metric tons [8], while only 40 to 50 metrictons of natural vanilla extract are produced annually [9].

In addition to its many other uses, vanillin is used as a common chocolateadditive to counteract the bitterness of cocoa. Over the last couple of years,Nestlé and Hershey in particular have announced intentions to reformulate itsproducts to use only natural flavors and additives, creating a drastic increasein demand for natural vanillin and vanilla extract [8]. This has causedsignificant price increases and has flavor companies scrambling for naturalalternatives [8].

Ingredients, including vanillin, produced through a fermentation reactionby genetically modified yeast have been proposed as an alternative sustainablemethod for the production of key natural ingredients [8,9]. Unfortun­ately,public opinion of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) falls into the samecategory of distaste as artificial ingredients, and this may also have anegative impact on products manufactured using such organisms. Companies arepursuing non-GMO label claims with perhaps even more fervor than theall-natural movement.

 

The Great Debate

In addition, current food and flavor regulations have been vague on theirdefinition of “natural” as it pertains to ingredients manufactured bygenetically modified yeast. In the United States, the status quo could be underfurther threat as the FDA sought public comments to review their definition ofthe term “natural” as it applies to foods and flavors in 2015 [11].

Artificial ingredients have a clear benefit when it comes to sustaina­bility.They are created by combining molecular building blocks that are readilyavailable and chemically replenish-able. They are also generally lessexpensive, easing raw material costs throughout the supply chain. When it comesto safety, modern flavor regulations are evaluating the safety of eachingredient individually and many are calling for very high purity requirements[12].

In addition, flavor companies are tracking ingredient purity profiles andusing tight quality control requirements to ensure food safety throughout thesupply chain. Straight out of a middle school science textbook, an artificialingredient that is chemically identical to its natural counterpart will havethe same chemical properties. However, whereas most artificial ingredients havehigh purity requirements and tight impurity profiles, many natural ingredientscan actually be composed of hundreds or more individual compounds, withimpurity profiles that are difficult to track as closely.

 

There are many questions left unanswered in this debate. Where is thebreaking point for consumers? How much are they willing to spend for allnatural versions of their favorite foods if prices increase drastically? Arethey willing to see some of their most beloved snacks become harder to find,disappear from the shelves, or have modified flavor profiles if key ingredientscannot be sourced naturally?

 

Looking at our previous example, it would not seem remotely feasible orsustainable to replace all of the world’s synthetic vanillin usage with anatural, non-GMO, alternative. How many other irreplaceable ingredients willfall into this category? Will global food brands be able to keep their promiseto deliver all natural products without having to compromise on flavor?Considering the many variables in annual crop returns, the world’s drasticallyincreasing population, and the size of the emerging middle class in China,India, and other markets, is the decision to make all natural products trulysustainable?

 

Only time will provide the answers to these questions。

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