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News from the Expo floor

Note: The AOCS Expo provides opportunities for AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo (AM&E) attendees to conduct business and to network. It also allows curious journalists to find out what is on the minds of those in the many fats and oils industries. Unfortunately, we could not meet with all 80 exhibitors at the 101st AM&E in Phoenix, Arizona, this year because of time constraints, but what follows is a sampling of what we found. And if you have additional news to report, please email it to inform Associate Editor Catherine Watkins ( ).

Sustainability, the recession, and challenges to the biodiesel industry were three major topics raised by a number of exhibitors at the 101st AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, May 16-19, 2010.

Desmet Ballestra North America Inc.'s Jim Willits summed up his view of the industry succinctly: "Trans is down and biodiesel will come back in some form," he said.

Barbara Stefl of Cognis Corp.'s Quality Trait Analysis (QTA) business unit reported that QTA has begun a new collaborative study, in tandem with AOCS, on mono-, di-, and triglycerides, as well as other properties, in biodiesel. "The Renewable Fuel Standard in the United States will drive demand, so we want to be ready with new analysis capabilities that will meet the needs of the industry," she said. The company is also expanding in the area of nutraceutical analysis, introducing a "whole line" of new nutraceutical analysis capabilities, including for fish oil, vitamins, and essential oils.

POS Pilot Plant Corp. was celebrating the end of its first fiscal year as a self-sufficient not-for-profit operating in the black. In the next booth, Jim Pauley, senior process engineer, Process Separations, for LCI Corp., had the economy on his mind. LCI, which sells capital equipment for the lecithin, glycerin, biodiesel, and omega-3 fatty acid industries, has seen business upticks in Africa, South America, and the Far East. Business in North America, however, has been flat.

Green Trend

Many exhibitors talked about the focus on all things "green" by either their companies or their customers-or both.

For example, Rudy Nijburg, Market Manager Detergents for Purac (a CSM company and lactic acid producer), discussed differences between the European and US approaches to dealing with biocide registration. "The United States is being more pragmatic than Europe, with its Biocide Directive. Put another way, the US is working from the bottom up, while Europe is working from the top down," he said. Nijburg also noted that 10 years ago, Europe was at the forefront of the "green trend." Now, he feels that the United States is taking the lead.

A spokesperson for enzyme manufacturer Novozymes said that the use of enzymes in detergents is on the upswing-augmenting and even partially replacing surfactants. The company is focusing on improved stain removal and whiteness with its Mannaway enzyme. (Visitors to the Novozymes exhibit received a handy stain remover pen-always helpful when one is on the road.) Hugo Gonzalez of Genencor (a division of Danisco) agreed that the focus on sustainability has increased interest in the use of enzymes as a means to reduce surfactant concentrations in products.

Bruce Patsey, vice president & general manager, Global Specialty Products Group, Oil-Dri Corp. of America, shared his insights on the trend toward "natural" products. "The increase in palm oil production has increased the demand for natural clay," he noted. Patsey also said that Oil-Dri recently hired 2007 AOCS Honored Student Vishal Jain to expand the company's research and technical support capabilities. Jain is working on procedure and method development, oil oxidation, and scale-up work-among other projects-Patsey said.

Customers' increased interest in energy savings was a topic raised by a number of exhibitors. GEA Westfalia Separator, has found that the desire to save energy has increased noticeably in Asia, "especially China," according to Steen Lassen, deputy division manager, Food & Dairy Division. Farah Salaria, vice president product development for Solex Thermal Science, agreed: "Energy efficiency is driving the market for us." Solex markets technology for drying grains and oilseeds.

Larry Forrester, general manager and vice president international marketing for Tramco, Inc., which manufactures conveyor systems, echoed the importance of Asia to new business prospects. Similarly, Chemithon Corp., which develops sulfonation technologies, reported that its methyl ester sulfonate (MES) plant in Guangzhou, China, will be completed in late 2010. The plant will have a capacity of 50,000 metric tons/year, said Michael Shea, regional manager/Asia Pacific & Europe. "Chemithon has been ahead of the green curve, starting in the early ‘90s when we developed our first MES technologies," he noted. "The Guangzhou plant will be very similar to our Houston [Texas, USA] facility that has been in constant operation since mid-2002 making MES products for most parts of the US for private-label products for Costco, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Sun, and many others."

New Products

Among the new products introduced at the meeting were "natural" antioxidants such as Danisco's GUARDIAN™ Green Tea Extract for margarine and spreads. The market for processed foods carrying "no preservatives" claims reached $13 billion in 2009, according to the Mintel market research firm. (Thanks for that statistic go to Bruce Johansing, global technical sales manager of Kalsec. He also pointed to Kalsec's Herbalox® Seasoning and Duralox® blends of natural antioxidants as fitting in with the trend toward naturally based products.)

Andrew Evans, category manager, Nutrition, at ingredients manufacturer Nealanders International Inc. also spoke about wellness trends in the food industry. "The trend covers three categories: ‘better for you' products such as no-trans items; clean label ("natural," organic, or synthetics-free) items; and fortified foods," he said.

Other product introductions included a benchtop NMR/MRI (nuclear magnetic resonance/magnetic resonance imaging) unit from NIUMAG Corp, as well as a method of direct thermometric titration of sodium in foodstuffs announced by Metrohm USA Inc.

Wacker Chemical Corp. introduced two new products. The first-Silfoam® SP 150-is a cost-effective defoamer for high-efficiency detergents. The second is an aqueous-based stain repellant for use on fabrics, leather, or wood.

AkzoNobel announced the availability of a number of new, sustainable products. They included Dissolvine® GL, a replacement for phosphates, EDTA, and NTA in autodish detergents; Berol® PBX active oxygen stain remover; Berol® HD heavy-duty degreaser; and the Alcoguard® H 5240 hybrid bio-polymer technology. The latter has been nominated for pollution prevention recognition by the US Environmental Protection Agency, a company spokesperson said.

When asked if his company had any new products to announce, William Gambel of Caravan Ingredients instead talked about his company's first year as an exhibitor at the AOCS Annual Meeting & Expo.

"I am very impressed with the level of scientific talent that attends this meeting," he said.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

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