The biggest factor propelling the demand for lecithin, which is essentially a fat, is the rising consumer spending on processed food across the globe. Owing to the rapidly growing economies of many countries, especially the developing nations, the disposable income of the people has increased and this has consequently increased their spending on processed food. Moreover, the rising need for novel ingredients that reduce the fat content of processed food and the escalating utilization of sunflower oil, which is one of the biggest sources of lecithin, are significantly boosting the usage of lecithin across the world.
Lecithin is widely used in numerous end-user industries, on account of its flexible nature and multifunctional characteristics. Due to these factors, the global lecithin market is expected to exhibit tremendous growth in the coming years. Lecithin basically works as an emulsifier, which means that it suspends oils and fats and prevents them from mixing with other substances. In many countries, lecithin supplements are commonly used for treating ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol and also as a breastfeeding aid.
The most widely used sources of lecithin are sunflower, eggs, and soy. Amongst these, soy recorded the highest usage as a lecithin source in the past. This is mainly attributed to the ability of the lecithin extracted from soybean oil to act as a natural emulsifier. In addition to this, the lecithin extracted from soybean oil comprises three forms of phospholipids —phosphatidylinositol (PI), phosphatidylcholine (PC), and phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), which make it highly sought-after throughout the world.
Lecithin is used in a plethora of applications, namely nutrition and health supplements, animal feed, cosmetics, and food products. Out of these, the use of lecithin in cosmetics (lipsticks, conditioners, and creams) is expected to record rapid growth in future. The surging usage of lecithin in the manufacturing of baked food, cheese products, and chocolate, owing to its ability to act as an emulsifying agent, is significantly contributing to the growth of the lecithin market across the world. Moreover, several food manufacturers are increasingly turning toward chocolate production, which is expected to further boost the adoption of lecithin.
Geographically, Europe registered huge utilization of lecithin in the past, due to the burgeoning need for lecithin in numerous industries such as cosmetics, health and nutrition, animal feed, and processed food. The rise in public awareness, regarding meat quality and dairy products, and the surge in meat consumption in several European countries were the other factors that contributed to the wide-scale adoption of lecithin in the region in the past. Asia-Pacific (APAC), owing to the soaring investments in nutrient supplement and food and cosmetics industries, is expected to record rapid growth in the usage of lecithin in future.
Hence, it is clear that due to the increasing consumption of processed food across the globe, the various useful characteristics of lecithin, and its rising utilization in numerous medical treatment procedures, the demand for lecithin is expected to boom in future.