One of the most widely distributed plant acids, tartaric acid is found naturally in food items such as grapes, bananas, and tamarinds, and can also be manufactured synthetically. Tartaric acid is a colorless, crystalline solid that is readily soluble in water and has a distinct sour taste. Although tartaric acid has been known to winemakers since 800 AD, its chemical extraction process was developed in the 1700s.
There are a variety of uses for tartaric acid in its original form, its salts and in combination with other additives. Tartaric acid is used in winemaking, the food and beverage industry, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, personal care products, animal feed and in industrial applications. Tartaric acid is used in carbonated drinks as an acidulant, in baking in the form of cream of tartar as a leavening agent and in cleaning metals.
The tartaric acid market is expected to grow significantly, with the global demand estimated to rise by a CAGR of 5 percent until 2021. The key demand drivers are beverages, food, and pharmaceuticals which account for 80 percent of the total demand, followed by demands from the construction and personal care markets. Based on region, Europe has the highest demand for tartaric acid, followed by the APAC. Suppliers can be identified on the basis of natural tartaric acid suppliers and synthetic suppliers. While natural acid suppliers are commonly located in Spain, Italy, the U.S. and Australia, synthetic tartaric acid suppliers are mostly found in China.
Risk Analysis for the Tartaric Acid Market
Along with massive demand and immense growth potential, there are risks for the tartaric acid market as well.
Fluctuating Prices: One of the major risks to the market is the fluctuating prices of naturally sourced tartaric acid. Popular sources for natural tartaric acid are grapes, sun-dried raisins and the residue left after the winemaking process. However, the supply of the natural sources for tartaric acid tends to fluctuate, resulting in fluctuation of prices of tartaric acid based on season and availability of raw materials.
Restrictions on Synthetic Tartaric Acid: The synthetic production of tartaric acid generally use maleic anhydride as a raw material and the prices of synthetically produced tartaric acid are more stable. Studies have found that excessive use of synthetic tartaric acid in food-grade items cause side effects such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and gastrointestinal inflammation. As a result, governments in several countries have placed regulations on the use of synthetic tartaric acid in food/beverage items and pharmaceuticals to avoid risks of side effects. The regulations on the use of synthetic tartaric acid serve as a risk for the overall market.
Competition from Citric Acid: Another plant acid, citric acid has several similarities to tartaric acid, making it a competitor to the tartaric acid market. Similar to tartaric acid, citric acid is also a natural food additive giving a sour taste to food. Citric acid also serves as a preservative and has antioxidant properties similar to tartaric acid. The major difference is the chemical structure and the source. While tartaric acid is primarily derived from grapes, citric acid can be found in a variety of citrus fruits, including limes, lemons, and pineapples.
Growth Opportunities in the Tartaric Acid Market
There are immense growth opportunities in the tartaric acid market, based on the various applications of tartaric acid across industries.
Winemaking: The single largest end-user application for tartaric acid is winemaking, in which even citric acid cannot be used. Tartaric acid plays an important role in the winemaking process as it helps maintain the chemical stability of the wine and influences the final taste. Growing popularity and consumption of wine at a global level presents immense opportunities for the tartaric acid market.
Food and Beverages: Tartaric acid plays several roles in the food and beverage industry and is also used in the form of cream of tartar and baking soda. Tartaric acid is used in various ways, including as an acidulant to add flavor, to set gels such as fruit jellies, as a preservative, in baked goods as a raising agent, in cooking candies, and making frosting for cakes.
Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care: In the pharmaceutical industry, tartaric acid functions as a buffering and excipient agent in drug delivery systems, as a laxative, as a solution to measure glucose levels, and in drug coating and layering. In personal care products, tartaric acid serves as a pH adjuster and skin coolants in soaps, skin care products, hair care products, and suntan creams.
Industrial Use: Tartaric acid has applications in cement production as an anti-solidifying and set-retardant agent, and is also used in silvering mirrors and tanning leather. In the form of ferric tartarte, tartaric acid is used as the blue ink in blueprints. Esters of tartaric acid are used in dyeing textiles and manufacturing lacquer.
The tartaric acid market has been witnessing steady growth which is expected to continue in the coming years. There are numerous applications for tartaric acid across multiple industries leading to immense growth opportunities in the field. Unstable supply of raw materials to make natural tartaric acid is a risk to the market as is competition from citric acid.
By Dinesh Mittal
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