Leading the Change to Sustainable, Plant-based Emulsifiers

Emulsifier inventor and manufacturer Palsgaard’s sustainably sourced and produced, plant-based emulsifiers are being applied to reduce food waste, support health and well-being, ensure food safety and more. And the arrival of these sustainable ingredients is being welcomed by consumers, food manufacturers and even the United Nations.

“We’re aiming to make sustainable emulsifiers the preferred choice both for food and food packaging manufacturers,” says Jakob Thoisen. “That’s not just a response to the fast-changing preferences of consumers and manufacturers, it’s also part of who we are as a socially responsible company.”

A flash of brilliance

Thoisen is the CEO of the more than 100-year-old company that invented the modern food emulsifier, Danish-based manufacturer Palsgaard. It’s a company that is intensely proud of its legacy – and justifiably so. Not only did founder Einar Schou’s development of Palsgaard Emulsion Oil start a revolution in the world’s food processing industry, but he simultaneously laid the foundation of a new type of corporation that had social responsibility at its heart.

According to Thoisen, there’s still plenty of untapped potential for emulsifiers in both food and non-food applications – although it takes deep expertise to realise their full capabilities. And the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals are firmly in Palsgaard’s sights as it turns up the power of its emulsifier technology and production methods to help not just its bottom line, but the world, too. Fat reduction and the use of healthier fats in ice cream are a good example of this power. And the ability of emulsifiers to help plant-based recipes mimic the sensory properties of animal-based products is yet another hot topic for food manufacturers and their marketing teams.

Solid contribution

“Sustainably sourced and sustainably produced” is a phrase used a lot at Palsgaard. On the one hand, it describes the fact that the company is highly focused on responsibly sourcing its raw materials (its production plants only use RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil or other plant-based ingredients, and most output complies with the RSPO SG level, making Palsgaard the first emulsifier manufacturer able to produce its full product range from 100% RSPO certified sustainable segregated palm oil). On the other, it acknowledges the enormous investment Palsgaard has made to become the first emulsifier producer in the world to achieve carbon-neutral production at scale. In fact, the company’s Mexico subsidiary became the first carbon-neutral manufacturer of its kind in the entire country.

Customer benefits

The Danish manufacturer’s international customers – typically mid-sized to large food brands – are already enjoying the fruits of all these efforts. And it’s a welcome change in a market where consumer motivation to eat more healthily and with respect for the planet is on the rise.

A growing number of consumers are also prioritising sustainable ingredients that promise to protect the environment and human rights. And consumers and regulatory authorities alike are encouraging brands to move to lower-fat, lower-sugar products without reducing quality or shortening shelf-life.

Palsgaard’s emulsifiers and emulsifier/stabilizer systems provide a convincing answer to such challenges, and they’re accompanied by a closeness to customers that enables open knowledge-sharing – the key to turning lab discoveries into market success stories.

Accelerating change

Palsgaard is one of a select group of companies invited by the United Nations to join an ‘SDG Accelerator Programme’, which aims to leverage the efforts of innovative companies in support of the world goals. Here, Palsgaard is well equipped to contribute know-how and application expertise. It’s one of very few companies of its size to have an arms-length innovation company dedicated to R&D in emulsifier technologies. Nexus, as this latter company is named, is a separate, science-based entity that exists purely to explore and exploit emulsifiers – and it’s a major asset both for Palsgaard’s food manufacturer customers and for the advancement of emulsifier capabilities in many different spheres.

Sustainable advantage

Despite the learning curves and heavy investments it has demanded, taking the sustainability high road is somewhat easier for Palsgaard than for its competitors. Foundation ownership enables its management to conduct business in line with a set of unwavering, socially-oriented principles handed down from one CEO to the next – and all profits are re-invested in ensuring these principles are followed to the letter.

This stroke of genius, which was initiated and set in stone by the founder’s son, Herbert Schou, ensures Palsgaard’s science and sustainability agenda is free to tackle relevant challenges and opportunities with the long-term perspective in mind, instead of short-term shareholder gains. As a result, inventing and perfecting sustainably sourced, sustainably produced emulsifiers that bring worthwhile value has become the most natural thing in the world for this ‘heart-working’ company.


Palsgaardvej 10 - 7130 Juelsminde, Denmark

+45 7682 7682 - www.palsgaard.com