Food additives are synthetic or natural substances added into food to improve its quality, color, fragrance and taste or for the sake of preservation, fresh-keeping and processing. At present, there are over 20 types and about 1,000 varieties of food additives, such as the acidity regulator, sweetener, bleacher, colorant, emulsifier, thickener, preservative, nutrition fortifier, and so on.
By the end of 2010, there were more than 2,000 food additive manufacturers in China and the industrial pattern dominated by Guangdong Province, Zhejiang Province, Jiangsu Province and Shanghai as the major production places was formed. China's food additive manufacturers are characterized by the large number and small scale.
The phenomenon that dozens of enterprises produce the same kind of products is very common. Taking xylitol as an example, the output and export volume in China ranks the top globally. There are over 50 enterprises producing it, while the annual production capacity of a single enterprise is only 300 to 500 tons. The number of enterprises is large, while the scale of a single enterprise is relatively small and the technological strength is correspondingly weak. (source: link esterno)
The situation with large numbers and small scales also results in the instability of domestic food additive product qualities. In addition, a few food additive enterprises mix food additives with impurities in order to reduce costs and pursue profits, causing the constant appearance of fake and shoddy commodities and seriously influencing the overall product levels and industrial image of China's food additive products further. The situation makes China's food processing enterprises lose faith in domestic food additives and shift to imported products or products from foreign-funded enterprises.
The annual production capacity of China's food additives exceeds 10,000 thousand tons. Output of China's products, such as monosodium glutamate, citric acid, xylose, xylitol, ethyl maltol in flavors, and so on, successively ranks the first in the world for years. In 2011, the total output of China's food additives reached 7,620 thousand tons and the market scale was nearly CNY 80 billion.
It is predicted that in the future years, China's food processing industry will still maintain the rapid growth and promote the development of food additive industry.