08 Feb 2021 — Consumers are increasingly looking for functional fiber ingredients that address specific health and wellness goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interest in ingredients made from functional fiber is growing as more people associate gut health and the microbiome with holistic wellbeing. FoodIngredientsFirst speaks to key players who share their insights into the fiber scene.
In line with the trend towards personalized nutrition, there will be a multitude of new fiber ingredients to help consumers adapt their unique lifestyle, says Susanne Sörgel, Senior Director, Platform Strategy for Pectin and Carrageenan at CP Kelco.
“Three categories that will be in the spotlight are grain fiber, soluble fiber and fruit fiber like citrus fiber,” she notes.
Benefits beyond the gut
According to Veerle Dam, a specialist in scientific and regulatory affairs at Sensus, consumers are becoming more and more aware of the importance of gut health as they realize that it not only improves digestion but also provides benefits beyond the gut, such as: B. immunity in the face of the current pandemic is essential.
“Another aspect of gut health that has been gaining increasing attention recently is its relationship to immunity, inflammation and metabolic health,” she says.
Consumer research in recent years shows that consumers are more conscientious about maintaining and improving their health. This trend gained momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The demand for better foods, especially those that are good for your gut and immune health, is increasing dramatically, and there is no sign that this will fade. In addition to the improved health benefits, consumers are more aware of the origin of their food than ever and prefer natural plant-based foods for their healthy enjoyment, ”explains Jolanda Vermulst, Manager for Market Information at Sensus.
Dietary fiber intake is becoming almost as important to consumers as protein intake, adds Käte Davis, senior director, pioneering innovation at CP Kelco.
“Consumers have always linked fiber to digestive health, but the idea of creating high-fiber foods that taste great is now a bonus. New fiber ingredients make it possible to add fiber without changing taste or texture – or causing digestive problems, and we are seeing higher fiber demands in products. Because of this, high fiber foods have great potential for success, ”she explains.
Chicory root is gaining ground
According to Beneo, 56 percent of European consumers associate prebiotics with immune health.
“There are windows of time for manufacturers who can take advantage of these concerns, which is why our prebiotic chicory root fibers are very popular with food and beverage manufacturers alike,” says Annelore De Boe, product manager for functional fibers at Beneo.
“However, demand for chicory root fiber was already high before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the trend has now accelerated, which means supply can be scarce. That’s why Beneo has invested more than 50 million euros ($ 60 million) in increasing the capacity of our chicory plant in Pemuco, Chile, to meet growing demand. “
A growing number of manufacturers are looking for chicory root fiber to make great tasting healthy food products, adds Vermulst at Sensus.
“The chicory inulin market has grown rapidly and the peak is yet to come. Chicory inulin and oligofructose will strongly lead the prebiotic fiber market, ”she explains.
“The naturally proven versatile chicory root fiber goes very well with trends such as clean label, plant-based, intestinal health, psychological well-being and immunity.”
Health claims to support healthy food products are therefore of interest to food manufacturers, and products with Sensus chicory inulin can also have a health claim on the packaging in Europe, ”says Vermulst.
“A recent study at the University of Calgary with Prof. Raylene Reimer showed that an intake of just 3 grams of Sensus chicory root fiber per day can affect the microbiome and show a bifidogenic effect,” she comments.
Chicory root fiber has been widely used in granola bars in North America for years, and that application is now growing rapidly in Asia and Europe, as Vermulst reveals. “It is also noticeable that chicory root fibers are still growing worldwide in reduced sugar bakery and milk applications,” she explains.
According to Brigitte Peters, technical sales support at Sensus, insoluble fibers have a significant impact on texture and mouthfeel when added to food.
“They usually absorb a lot of water, can lead to taste disturbances and deliver physical particles in the end product. Water-soluble fibers like chicory root don’t have these disadvantages, ”she comments.
“With the neutral or clean sweet taste, they do not have a negative effect on the taste. This makes them useful in a wide variety of foods, not just fiber fortification. Chicory root fiber has a proven ability to replace sugar, fat, or both. With the lower calorie content, reformulating products using chicory root fiber results in products with several health benefits: fewer calories, more fiber, and a better nutritional profile. “
Fiber in applications
Sarah Diedrich, director of marketing for sweetening solutions and fibers at ADM, says many applications can benefit from additional fiber, including sports nutrition products, beverages, baked goods, dairy products and desserts.
“According to Hartman Fiber Occasions (2019), fiber is present in 22 percent of all places to eat and drink,” she adds.
“Adding fiber to sports nutrition products is a great way to achieve the satiety and weight management that many athletes seek in everyday life,” explains Diedrich.
“We’re also seeing fiber play a prominent role in the better you snacks category, as consumers look for extra nutrition when snacking. Crackers, flatbreads, and cookies can specifically benefit from our Fibersol ingredient as it retains the desired texture when applied. “
In addition, it improves the crispness of baked goods like cookies and allows sugar to be reduced by up to 25 percent, she adds. “Chips, snack mixes and other crunchy snacks retain a crispy texture and can have a longer shelf life with Fibersol. Our soluble fiber is also a great solution for foods on the keto diet. “
CP Kelco’s Sörgel believes that fiber is helping trends collide, especially in the areas of sugar reduction, calorie restriction, and general wellbeing.
“Consumers are increasingly interested in foods and beverages that offer functional health benefits. For example, fiber can be added to protein bars and beverages to reduce calories and sugar, as this leads to a feeling of satiety and promotes digestion and gut health. “
“In addition to the popular snack category of protein bars and baked goods, we expect the fiber ingredients to play a prominent role in beverages, spices, sauces, soups and meat in the coming months,” she confirms.
We also know that formulators have a lot of balancing to do – to achieve their goals on the clean label, e.g. B. the use of ingredients from sustainable sources or fewer ingredients on the label, with the solution of functional challenges such as stabilization and suspension, while at the same time the mouthfeel, the taste and the taste perception are achieved. Consumers expect in a highly competitive market ”, explains Sörgel.
This was the main reason CP Kelco developed NUTRAVA Citrus Fiber, which comes from an abundant supply of citrus peel, a by-product of the juice industry.
“This next generation ingredient aids fiber absorption, provides emulsion stabilization and moisture control, and aids efforts to reduce fat, sugar and salt. It can even serve as an egg substitute in vegan foods, ”concludes Sörgel.
By Elizabeth Green
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