Malic acid exists as a dicarboxylic organic acid in nature. It is essentially synthesized in all living beings. Malic acid imparts a pleasantly sour taste to fruits and vegetables. It exists in two stereoisomeric forms: D-malic acid and L-malic acid. L-malic acid exists in its natural form while a mixture of D- and L-malic acid is produced synthetically. Malic acid finds major application in food additive and it is primarily utilized for various purposes such as flavor enhancement, preservation, and as an acidulant for pH control. Malic acid has predominantly dual functionalities and hence, it is largely used as a flavor enhancer and preservative in the food and beverages industry.
Malic acid is commercially produced from maleic anhydride. The process involves double hydration of maleic anhydride in order to produce a racemic mixture of two isomers of malic acid. It exists in a white crystalline, granular form at room temperature. It forms a homogeneous mixture with water and is easily soluble with organic solvents such as ethanol.
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Malic acid is primarily used as a food additive to enhance flavor (tartness/sourness). It provides a longer shelf life to the products with its antimicrobial properties and pH controlling ability; and thus, it is used to preserve food and beverages. Increasing adoption of convenience food and beverage products as a result of the growing urban population is driving the malic acid market. Furthermore, malic acid is steadily replacing antibiotics in animal feed and as a result, the demand from animal feed applications is also increasing. Furthermore, evolution of new innovative ingredients in the food and beverages industry is opening up new opportunities for flavorings and preservatives such as malic acid. Malic acid readily substitutes citric acid in the detergent industry and hence, detergent and cleaner application segment provides an emerging opportunity in the malic acid market.
Malic acid imparts a pleasant taste to food and beverages. It uniformly aids in the masking of any unpleasant after tastes of antioxidants, artificial sweeteners, nutraceuticals, amino acids, plant extracts, or vitamins. Additionally, increasing consumption of nutritional bars and fortified protein drinks has led to the rising demand of malic acid.
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Demand for sports nutrition and functional food is accelerating at a significant rate in developed countries such as the U.S. the U.K., Japan, and France. Hence, the demand for malic acid is expected to grow rapidly in these regions. Moreover, rising awareness regarding obesity and other health issues has resulted in a lifestyle shift towards healthier food and beverages, which in turn, is expected to fuel demand for malic acid. Malic acid is a major constituent of almost all fruit flavored liquids and powders used in the food and beverages industry globally. Malic acid plays a significant role in regulating animal health and weight by controlling microbial population in the animal digestive systems and hence, it is widely used as a feed acidulant in animal feed.