The Citric Acid Industry

Part of the Studies in Industrial Organization book series (SIOR, volume 26)

Citric acid is a product found in thousands of grocery products. This chapter answers the following questions: what is citric acid used for, who makes it, how do they make it, how much is made, and where is it made?

Citric acid is an organic chemical with a unique molecular structure. As an additive in foods like yogurt, sausages, and soft drinks, citric acid is one of several acidulents purchased by food manufacturers. Acidulents serve several useful functions in food formulations: sterilization, bacterial stabilization, flavor fixation, flavor enhancement, and standardization of acid levels. Besides its uses in the food industries, approximately one-third is purchased by detergent manufacturers. Citric acid has been replacing phosphorus in detergents because it does less harm to the ecology of rivers and lakes. Although there are about six other commercially important acidulents, citric acid accounts for more than 80 percent of the value of all acidulents sold in the U.S. market.1 In most food and beverage formulations, citric is the only feasible acid.


Citric Acid Corn Sweetener Transaction Price Citric Acid Production Average Total Cost 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

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