Ethanol is usually associated with the fuel market or the chemical industry, but its third most significant market is the food and beverage industry.
According to latest available data of the European renewable ethanol association (ePURE), the use of ethanol in the food and beverage sector grew to 410 million litres in 2015, up from 350 million litres in 2014 and 290 million litres in 2009.
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol and alcohol, is а clear, volatile and flammable liquid that is most commonly produced by fermenting starch and sugars with the help of yeast. It is used for the production of a number of alcoholic drinks such as vodka and gin, where water, aromas and flavourings are added to neutral alcohol. Gin, for instance, is produced through the infusion of juniper berries into neutral grain alcohol.
Ethanol for the beverage market differs from ethanol for fuel in its strength, which should be 96%, and its purity. The ethanol for human consumption should be pure or, in other words, undenatured, with no additives making it unsuitable for drinking. When the ethanol is intended for applications outside the beverage industry it is usually called denatured.
Ethanol also plays a role in the production of flavours and aromas for food and drinks. It is used to extract and concentrate these ingredients. The end products do not contain alcohol.
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Food & beverage industry is European ethanol's third largest market