Agar is a gelatinous substance that is usually extracted from algae. Agar is derived from polysaccharide agarose, which is a crucial supporting structure in the cell walls of the specific species of algae. Polysaccharide agarose is easily released from the algal cell walls on boiling. Agar is mainly extracted from the algae which are known as agarophytes which belongs to the Rhodophyta (red algae) phylum. In chemical terms agar is a polymer that is formed from the subunits of galactose. Agar is the mixture that is resulted from two crucial biochemicals which includes the agaropectin and agarose. For the commercial purpose agar is primarily manufactured from Gelidiumamansii which is an economically important species of red algae. Gelidiumamansii which is an essential raw material for manufacturing agar is mainly found in the shallow coast of many eastern and southwestern countries of Asia.
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Agar has been classified as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Thus, the food industry is the largest consumer of agar. The ability of the agar gels to remain stable even at high temperatures makes them suitable to be used as thickeners and stabilizers in icings, pie fillings and meringues. Thus, the growing baking food industry is expected to augment the overall growth of the agar market globally. Agar being tasteless is a perfect ingredient in the food industry as it does not interfere with the flavor of the food produced. Agar is also used in the gelled fish and meat and is often preferred to gelatin owing to its gel strength and high melting temperature. Agar is also used in pharmaceuticals as a smooth laxative. Agar also finds applications in the various research institutes that are oriented toward the study of microbiological organisms. Thus, the growing pharmaceutical companies coupled with the development of research institutes focused towards microbial studies are expected to boost the global demand for the agar market. Unless new applications of agar are developed in the coming years, it would become difficult to witness any huge growth numbers in the demand for agar in the coming future. Also the development of various cheaper substitutes for agar is further expected to hamper the growth of the market.
Asia Pacific is expected to be the largest producer of agar owing to the easily availability of the essential raw material which is the red algal species eastern and southwestern Asian countries. In Japan agar is one of the common ingredients used in the preparation of desserts. North America is expected to be the second largest producer of agar. Agar is widely used in the food consumed by the North American population which plays a crucial role in increasing the overall demand in the region.
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Hispanagar, S.A., IndustriasRoko, S.A., SETEXAM S.A, Ina Food Industry Co., Ltd., Matsuki Agar-Agar Industrial Co., Ltd, Myeong Shin Chemical Ind. Co., Ltd., Coast Biologicals Ltd, Soriano S.A., P.T. AgarindoBogatama and Agarmex S.A. among others are some of the participants of the agar market. The companies mainly strive to increase the efficiency as well as the production capacity for manufacturing agar. The companies are focused towards achieving economies of scale in the production which would in turn help in selling the product at low prices. Thus, the companies are endeavoring towards capturing larger market share.