To obtain a final wet pet food product with the requested characteristics it is fundamental to use ingredients characterized by technological properties, such as hydrocolloids. The best way to maximize their efficacy and find the right solution for every application is to use specific and functional blends of different hydrocolloids.
Hydrocolloids’ characteristics and properties
Hydrocolloids, more commonly known as gums, are hydrophilic polymers (polysaccharides and proteins) of high molecular weight extracted from plants and algae or produced by microbial synthesis.
When dispersed in water, hydrocolloids particles are able to bind water molecules, either slowing the flow of the liquid and forming viscous dispersion, or stopping the liquid flow entirely, solidifying it into a gel.
Hydrocolloids are naturally present or added to wet pet food to improve its functional properties, such as thickening, gelling, emulsifying, stabilization, viscosity, and coating.
Typical hydrocolloids are Carrageenans, Locus bean gum, Guar gum, Conjac gum, Xanthan gum, Alginates, Gelatin, Cellulose derivates, Agar and Pectins.
Hydrocolloids functional blends; 1+1≥3
Single hydrocolloids are characterized by several technological properties, however, finding the right product for each application can be difficult and expensive.
On the contrary, with the combination of different hydrocolloids together, it is possible to obtain a greater effect than the sum of the single hydrocolloids’ individual effects and it is easier to reach a final product with the requested properties.
Moreover, hydrocolloids blends require a lower dosage and are easier to use during the production process, allowing time and cost savings.
However, since every wet pet food product has its own characteristics and requirements, creating the right hydrocolloids combination is not so easy. It is fundamental to have a great experience and knowledge of the characteristics of each hydrocolloid.
Each wet pet food manufacturer produces its specific products for which it is necessary to use specific combinations of hydrocolloids so that the result is not only the satisfaction of the manufacturer but especially the satisfaction of the final customer. Within Barentz Animal Nutrition, our technological experts work closely with our customers to develop the best combination of hydrocolloids to provide the requested functional properties for every wet pet food product or application.
One of the building blocks in the Barentz hydrocolloids blends is Carrageenans, which are naturally occurring sulfated polysaccharides extracted from red seaweed species. They can be divided into three types (kappa, iota, and lambda), with different gelling properties and sensitivity to salts.
With the proper experience and understanding of this hydrocolloid, it is possible to combine different types of Carrageenans and minerals, and salts to obtain blends with the specific properties requested for each application.
Mostly Carrageenans are also combined with other hydrocolloids, such as Locus bean gum, Konjac gum, Guar Gum, Xanthan gum, and many other alternatives, depending on the characteristics of the final product.
In wet pet food, the use of hydrocolloid functional blends is very helpful either to create the desired gel, to obtain a proper meat emulsion, or a natural juice.
Creation of gel
Depending on the wet food product, like pouches or cans, and on its characteristics, the requirements for a gel can be different: soft, firm, elastic, transparent, or yellow. Therefore, several combinations of hydrocolloids can be used to obtain different types of gel, in order to find a solution to every application.
In order to obtain chunks and products of the “pate” type, it is fundamental to perform a proper meat emulsion. In this case, hydrocolloids blends can help thicken and stabilize the meat emulsion, guaranteeing a proper chunks or “pate” product.
A very important characteristic of wet pet food that stimulates dogs' and cats’ appetite is the gravy/juice in which chunks are wrapped. Therefore, it can be very helpful to use specific hydrocolloids combinations that contribute to obtaining a gravy/juice that looks natural and appealing to pets.
However, in case a more specific blend is needed, our Barentz technological experts are even able to formulate customized solutions, to answer every requirement.