In order to reduce waste and cut costs, food products need to remain fresh for as long as possible. Consumer food products that quickly change in appearance, texture, and consistency easily get pushed to the side as customers avoid eating foods that dry out. In some cases, companies need to add ingredients to keep products moist for proper storage and consumption.

Fortunately, humectant additives are a solution for keeping foods visually appealing. Adding humectants to food and drink products keeps your merchandise fresh, drawing water, and satisfying for the taste buds.

Oil being added by a spout in a manufacturer's kitchen

Different types of humectants

Humectants are hygroscopic additives for keeping products moist. These substances serve a variety of food and nutrition industries, as humectants control product changes from environmental shifts. Humectant compounds are able to attract and retain moisture by absorbing water vapor to a product's surface. Some food products have a natural ability to draw in moisture. Culinary professionals include the following products in recipes to extend shelf life:

  • Honey: You will find that humectants are effective for sweets and desserts. Honey holds onto water without sacrificing texture characteristics of baked products.
  • Sugar: Sugar is a natural humectant suitable for solid and wet food products. High amounts of sugar are able to bind with moisture for preservation against premature spoilage.
  • Salt: Salt is similar to sugar in that it is one of the oldest known humectants, and high amounts of salts prevent spoilate. Food professionals use salt to both preserve product and enhance flavor.

The most common humectants for the food industry are Polyols. This is a family of very effective humectant compounds with colorless, odorless, and sweet-tasting properties. Regularly used in many applications this ingredient works as bulking and thickening agents and sugar substitute for food products. The most popular polyols are sorbitol, erythritol, maltitol, xylitol, glycerin and MPG depending on the final application and local food regulations are used in various applications like bakery, confectionery, dairy and many others.

Jars of milk beside coffee and cookie with cream

Functionality of humectants in food products

The purpose of including humectants in original products is to control water activity within foods. By drawing in moisture in the air, humectants prevent foods from drying out, crystallizing, and breaking apart. This helps food hold its shape and texture.

Get in touch

Our Food Experts in our Food Application & Development Centers can support you in extending the shelf life of your product by finding the right humectant to use. Contact us and learn more about the possibilities of using humectants in your product.

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