Emulsifiers are used by food makers to reduce the surface tension between two immiscible phases at their interface - such as two liquids, a liquid and a gas, or a liquid and a solid - allowing them to mix.
"Owing to their functional properties, emulsifiers form an indispensable part of food items such as chilled dairy products, high-priced breads, as well as low-fat spreads that demand organoleptic superiority, stability, improvement in volume and longer shelf life," said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Jennifer Steinke.
"The greater the extent of processing in the foods, the higher the emulsifier content in them," she added.
According to the new report, the US market for food emulsifiers currently stands at around $505mn, and is estimated to reach $668mn by 2012.
Propelled by consumer health concerns, food makers are under pressure to design tasty foodstuffs that cut back on the fat. And with the changing needs of the food industry, there has been a growing demand for 'multi-purpose' emulsifiers, said Frost & Sullivan.
These include products that act as low-fat substitutes and stabilizers as well as perform the basic emulsification functions.
"To meet these requirements, emulsifier manufacturers are concentrating on developing novel emulsifier blends and producing products such as non- genetically modified emulsifiers with little or zero trans-fats," said Steinke.
Last year for example, Swiss biotech firm Lonza launched its first non-GMO glycosperse polysorbates line of emulsifiers, designed for use in food applications such as baked goods, icings and fillings, coffee whiteners, whipped toppings, and ice cream.
The growth in the demand for convenience foods such as ready- to-eat meals, desserts, and frozen foods is also boosting the US emulsifiers market, as these are used to improve the shelf life and organoleptic attributes of these products.
"Overall, the rise in health concerns, coupled with the growing consumer pressure for healthy ingredients will drive the demand for emulsifiers from hydrogenated oils, thus subsequently replacing hydrogenated fats in foods. Food-making companies continuously look for efficient emulsifier blends, which are custom made to suit their requirements, a trend likely to spur the markets in the future," said the report.