Glycerol and oils or fats (triglycerides) are the raw materials for the production of monoglycerides, the most widely used food emulsifiers. The oils and fats employed in emulsifier production are common throughout the food industry, including palm, sunflower, rapeseed and soy. As an alternative to triglycerides, the corresponding fatty acids can also be used (interesterification or glycerolysis versus direct esterification).
Monoglycerides can be further esterified with food acids, i.e. lactic acid, citric acid or acetic acid anhydride, to produce other emulsifiers with a range of functional properties - lactic acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids, citric acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids and acetic acid esters of mono-and diglycerides of fatty acids.
In addition to glycerol, other hydrophilic (poly)alcohols can be used to react with vegetable oils or fats in the production of food emulsifiers. Examples of these (poly)alcohols are polyglycerol, propylene glycol, sorbitol and sucrose.