Published February 2017
In 2016, beverages (both liquids and powders, mainly fruit-flavored beverages) accounted for 52% of the world consumption of DL-malic acid; confections and food accounted for most of the remainder, at 38%.
In most applications, DL-malic acid provides the following functions:
- Enhances flavors
- Provides sourness/tartness
- Controls growth of microorganisms (preservation)
- Adjusts pH (as an acidulant)
- Reduces ingredient cost
The following pie chart shows world consumption of DL-malic acid:
World growth in demand for DL-malic acid relies heavily on the production of beverages, confections, and food. Although there are regional differences in food tastes and preferences, the major trends driving demand for DL-malic acid in food, confections, and beverages appear to be similar in many regions:
- Desire for convenience (increased popularity of processed foods and ready-to-drink beverages)
- New beverage and food introductions, mainly nutraceutical and fruit-flavored beverages, mint-flavored confections, low-calorie confections, and savory foods
- Concern over health and nutrition and health consciousness. Growing concern regarding obesity and the connection between dietary habits and major diseases such as diabetes and heart disease has caused consumers to reexamine their diets and lifestyles and seek healthier alternatives
- Increased use of high-intensity sweeteners in beverages, confections, and food. DL-Malic acid’s prolonged sourness flavor profile (compared with other acidulants, such as citric acid) helps reduce the aftertastes associated with some high-intensity sweeteners by improving the flavor profile of diet beverages and foods
- Growing consumption of nutritional bars (including cereal, sports, and energy bars), and sports, energy, and protein drinks (including fortified and enhanced water). As this category continues to grow, particularly in North America, Europe, and Asia, producers are introducing numerous flavor varieties of bars and drinks. In this application, DL-malic acid helps provide a pleasant taste, in addition to masking any aftertastes caused by amino acids, vitamins, fibers, antioxidants, plant extracts, high-intensity sweeteners, or nutraceuticals
Additionally, newer applications in detergents, where DL-malic acid can replace citric acid, and in animal feeds, where DL-malic acid acts as an antimicrobial agent and provides taste, are expected to help increase demand.
In 2016, Asia (including China) accounted for almost 45% of the world consumption of DL-malic acid, followed by North America at 27% and Europe with 17%. This distribution reflects the fact that markets for ready-to-drink beverages and processed foods are highly developed. Growth in demand is highest in the developing markets of Asia, Central and South America, the Middle East, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe, where concerns about health and nutrition are relatively nascent and diet products and nutritional foods and beverages have less market penetration. Demand in these markets is also forecast to increase as the popularity of processed food and ready-to-drink beverages grows, along with improving living standards. Demand for DL-malic acid is forecast to grow at an average annual rate of 6–7% in India and at 2.5–3.5% globally.