A new report by market research company Data Bridge forecasts the food-grade lubricants segment will grow by 7.1 percent by 2027 to a value of U.S. $387.83 million, driven by increasing concerns about food safety and a growing population.
Food-grade lubricant production in Europe is dominated by a small number of players, including German companies Fuchs, Klueber Lubrication and Lanxess, as well as Total and SKF. European food safety regulations are some of the world’s strictest, and food-grade lubricants are approved for use in food production machinery.
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The report comes amid news that the German non-governmental organization Foodwatch released test results that found samples of baby formula contained mineral oil saturated and aromatic hydrocarbons, known respectively as MOSH and MOAH. Foodwatch claims these molecules are harmful to human health and can be found in mineral oil-based lubricants.
The tests carried out by the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office of Muenster do not say where these substances emanate from. MOSH and MOAH are present in a range of sources – including packaging inks, petroleum products and mineral oil-based lubricants, which Foodwatch has pointed to in the past as the source.
According to lubricant industry experts, it is very difficult to determine whether or not MOSH and MOAH found in food products emanate from lubricants used in production machinery. They also say the health risk claims are based on flawed research that forms part of the European Food Standards Agency policy on food-grade lubricants.
Still, many European food manufacturers insist that raw materials producers use a food-grade lubricant in order to lower the presence of MOSH and MOAH. Earlier this year, Nestle requested its palm oil farmers to reduce mineral oil contamination by using food-grade lubricants, thus driving segment growth.