Pectin is the gelling agent that makes jams and preserves set, but is used extensively by the food industry for enhancing the texture and appearance of a range of foods, as well as contributing to flavour release.
Growth for the texturiser, considered to be the 'darling' of the hydrocolloids due to its versatility and strong humectant properties, is pitched at about 4 to 5 per cent.
Cargill joins leading pectin players Herbstreith & Fox, Degussa and JM Huber in a market demanding in excess of 30,000 tons annually.
"The addition of pectin to our portfolio means we are in a strong position to offer our customers a unique range of texturising solutionsl," says Mark Wastijn, marketing director of Cerestar Food & Pharma Specialties.
In September 2004 Citrico International went into liquidation, while the firm's German-based production plant and business situated in Malchin did not file for insolvency and operations continued. Cargill's acquisition includes both businesses.
Observers claim Cargill's entry may not have a real impact on current business because the production they took over is already available in the market.
Indeed, they believe that as a stable player, Cargill could be good for the market. Time will tell.
The €46.7 million German plant produces some 4,500 metric tonnes of pectin annually sold through the firm's international business. When unveiled in 2001 the plant was pushed as the cornerstone of Citrico International's hydrocolloid business.
While mature hydrocolloid products such as alginates have historically witnessed stable prices, pectin can pull in higher margins, amounting to decent gains for the pectin producers.