Afriplex now offers micro-encapsulation of flavours

Paarl-based Afriplex has recently acquired micro-encapsulation technology to manufacture flavours in a powder format. This will allow the company to broaden its basket of flavour products and to offer clients an improved and wider range of product possibilities.

Afriplex has over the past two years experienced an increased demand for flavours in powder format, mainly as a result of increased expansion in the market for instant products and convenience foods, reports Grant Momple, head of its food and beverage division.

“In striving to tailor its services and products to clients’ needs while maintaining quality and cost-effectiveness, the micro-encapsulation technology is a welcome addition to our array of capabilities,” he says.

Why use micro-encapsulation?

Flavours and fragrances are often adversely affected by heat processes, evaporation or natural oxidation. During spray drying, for example, processing temperatures are often elevated and create a harsh environment for flavour compounds. This may cause the flavour compound to degrade, as well as the volatile portion of the flavour composition being driven off – all resulting in an inferior end product. 

Micro-encapsulation is the process of enclosing a core material inside a miniature capsule, called microcapsules, to protect it from these negative effects.

Basically, the technique involves a process whereby the volatile oil component is encapsulated by a lipophylic agent, thereby creating a protective layer around the flavour compound. Micro-encapsulation therefore results in the retention of the volatiles, by protecting the encapsulated component. In addition, the technique improves the chemical stability.

This diagram illustrates how the volatile flavour is protected within a multi-shell inner matrix and a protective outer shell surrounding it, thereby creating protection from oxidation and degradation. The latter is clearly visible in the scanning electron microscope (SEM) image on the right.

How would micro-encapsulated flavours typically be used?

Specifically in some areas of the food industry, it is beneficial to use powder flavours rather than liquid flavours. Typical applications would be where the flavour is required to be processed into a pre-mix with other powdered raw materials, such as sugar, salt, flour or stabilisers.

Moreover, the nature of the finished product (especially in applications where convenience plays a role) may dictate the use of a dry flavour mix, for example:

  • instant powder mixtures for desserts and beverages
  • baking mixes
  • dry soups
  • adding value to powder supplement applications, eg health shakes

What are the advantages of micro-encapsulated powder flavours?

  • Ensuring the integrity of a flavour compound
  • Ease of handling and storage 
  • Protection of flavour integrity
  • Increased stability and shelf-life

Afriplex: www.afriplex.co.za