-Nandini Bansal (email@example.com)
Established in 1982 Marine Hydrocolloids is India’s largest manufacturer & exporter of Agar Agar (Powder & Strips), and also offers Spreadable Agar Agar branded as Wondergel, Carrageenan and Alginates. Our four-decade long legacy has equipped us with the know-how that has constantly kept us on our toes to meet the demands of the changing nature of consumption.
Over the years, the Kerala based food giant had developed blends and products to cater to industries ranging from Food, Confectionery, Bakery, Dairy to Cosmetics, Personal Care, Plant Tissue Culture, Dehydrated Culture media, Microbiology, Dental Castings and Pharmaceuticals. Recently the company had started developing Stabiliser Blends suitable for large scale requirements of the HORECA industry. Kurian Jose Jr, CEO of the Meron Group, the parent company of Marine Hydrocolloids speaks on their organization expansion plans.
Can you please explain the importance of plant-based food ingredients?
Consumers nowadays are more label-conscious and prefer 100% natural products. This has led to an increase in the global population of vegans and vegetarians, consequently creating a high demand for nutrition-rich plant-based foods. Plant based ingredients have various health benefits which are now being recognized thanks to this culture. Plant based diets have better impact on the health of your gut, increase the ability of the body to absorb nutrition thereby improving immunity. Many healthcare practitioners recommend Plant based diets for lowering the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and other chronic diseases.
What led you to develop your own range of stabilizers?
Having developed customized blends over the past four decades, we have acquired a deep understanding of not only our manufacturing clients’ needs but also that of the end customer – the actual consumer. This led us to develop universally accepted and demanded blends that can be bought off the shelf and largely enable the manufacturers to reduce their overall production costs while ensuring improved consistent quality.
Can you please elaborate on the benefits of using hydrocolloids in the food & beverages industry?
Hydrocolloids function as thickeners, gelling agents, foaming agents, edible coatings, emulsifiers, stabilizers, etc. The principal reason for extensive use of hydrocolloids in the food industry is their ability to bind with water and modify the properties of food ingredients. They are also functional carbohydrates used in many foods to enhance their shelf life and quality. They modify the viscosity and texture of foods ensuring consistency in the end mouthfeel and taste.
Which of your products are used in the meat and its application industry?
Hydrocolloids and Gums help to increase the water holding capacity, slice-ability and texture of the final product. In the Meat products Industry, the texture and juiciness of the product is fundamental to its acceptance and success. Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum and different ranges of Carrageenan help in meat applications by providing firmness, increasing the water holding capacity and improving juiciness. These ensure standardization of quality in the overall production process.
Which industries are you expanding into and with which products?
Owing to the growing retail consumption of desserts, bakery products and confectionaries, we are expanding into the retail and HORECA segments. We have launched Instant Dessert Premixes and a wide range of HORECA products and are working on launching many more of the same this year too. Our NPD and Distribution teams are working aggressively on capturing this growing segment.
How are plant-based ingredients or hydrocolloids significant in the Desserts Industry
Hydrocolloids act as binding, thickening and stabilizing agents. They ensure better texture and consistency to a wide range of desserts and dessert mixes. The spreadable quality of hydrocolloids ensures a better texture and mouthfeel for desserts such as Puddings, Mousse, Panna Cotta and Crème Brulee. They can also be used to delay the melting initial time of frozen desserts thereby giving protection against whey separation and improving freeze/thaw stability. This imparts structure and firmness to the frozen desert and assists in packaging.
Please let us know about your expansion into Retail segment
We started our retail journey by launching our current products in easy to use Retail packs, on ecommerce and local distribution. Over the years we have grown that market both nationally and internationally. This year saw us expand our product portfolio from ingredients to Ready to Make Instant Dessert Premixes. Our focus now is on both maximizing the reach of these ranges of products and launching newer products suitable for a range of consumer tastes.
What are your plans for the hotel, restaurant and catering industry
At Meron, we have designated a separate research division to work on products suitable for the HORECA sector. Since our range of products is closely associated with improving the thickness, stabilizer and texture of baked foods, desserts and dairy products, we have developed blends and ranges specific to each application. Our entire retail range of Agar Agar, Carrageenan, Vegetarian Jelly Powder, Xanthan Gum, Alginates and Guar gum is available in easy to store HORECA packing. Beyond that we have developed Dough Improvers, Stabilisers blends for Ice Cream, Milk Shake, Cold Glaze, Flavoured Milk and Mayonnaise, which are designed specifically for each application.
All our products enable consistency in quality and production processes thereby enabling our clients to reduce their overall operation expenses.
Can you please let us know the application areas where the Hydrocolloids, Stabilizers, Thickeners, and Gelling agents manufactured by your firm can be used?
Agar Agar is used as a Binding and Jelling agent for Pudding, fruit cake, tart, cheesecake, yoghurt, Jam, Panna Cotta, Sausage, Fruit caviar, popsicles, flans and marmalades. Carrageenan is used as a Thickener, Stabilizer and emulsifier for Ice cream, Dessert jelly, Candies, Flavoured milk, Cheese, Fruit crush and Marshmallows. Spreadable Agar Agar branded as Wondergel is used in Cake glaze, Fondant, Cheesecake, Jam, Smoothie, Panna cotta and Mousses. Alginates are used in Molecular Spherification. Xanthan Gum improves the Texture stability in Ice creams, Ice candies, Meat & Sausage, Cheese varieties etc. Alginates can be used as impression material (Dental, hand & Leg, Study models, portraits, etc.). Guar Gum is used in Jams, Sauces, Cheese, Salad dressings etc.
Can you please elaborate on the applications of your products other than the food and beverages industry?
Different blends of Agar Agar have applications beyond the Food Industry. Technical Grage Agar Agaris used for fertilizer gel and hair gel. Bacteriological grade Agar Agar is used in Microbiology for Imaging in Petri dishes. Pharmaceutical grade Agar Agar is used in syrups and tablets. Plant tissue culture grade Agar Agar is used in the manufacture of Culture Media. Similarly, grades of Carrageenan are used in Air fresheners, clear soaps, cosmetics, pet foods and shampoos. The purest form of Agar, that is Agarose can be used in Electrophoresis, Live cell imaging, DNA-RNA recovery and Chromatography.
Are there any new global expansions that your firm has seen this year and what are your plans for in forward?
We have expanded further into the North African Market with strategic tie ups with Distribution houses in each country. We are also establishing our presence in Russia and the Australian markets. This year, we intend to strengthen our base with these associations and develop products/blends to cater to the local markets.