Fiber foods

Wins for gut health and NPD apps

February 08, 2021 — Consumers are increasingly looking for functional fiber-based ingredients that address specific health and wellness goals during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is increased interest in functional fiber ingredients due to the growing number of people linking gut health and microbiome to overall holistic well-being. FoodIngredientsFirst interviews key players who share their views on the fiber scene.

In line with the personalized nutrition trend, a variety of new fiber-based ingredients will be available to help consumers adapt to their unique lifestyles, says Susanne Sörgel, Senior Director, Platform Strategy for Pectin and carrageenan at CP Kelco.

“Three categories that will be in the spotlight will be grain fiber, soluble fiber, and fruit fiber like citrus fiber,” she notes.

Benefits beyond the gut
According to Veerle Dam, scientific and regulatory affairs specialist at Sensus, consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of gut health as they realize that not only does it have an impact on improving digestion, but also benefits beyond the gut, such as immunity, which is essential given the current pandemic.

There is a growing interest in fiber ingredients due to the links between gut health, microbiome and overall holistic well-being.“Another aspect of gut health that has been receiving increasing attention lately is its association with immunity, inflammation, and metabolic health,” she says.

Consumer studies in recent years show that consumers are more concerned with maintaining and improving their health. This trend has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The demand for healthier food products, especially those that positively affect gut and immune health, is increasing dramatically, and there are no signs that this will subside. Besides the improved health benefits, consumers are more aware than ever of where their food comes from and prefer natural, plant-based food products for their healthy pleasures,” says Jolanda Vermulst, Head of Business Intelligence at Sensus.

Fiber intake is becoming almost as important to consumers as protein, adds Käte Davis, Senior Director, Innovation Pioneer at CP Kelco.

“Consumers have always associated fiber with digestive health, but the idea of ​​developing fiber-rich foods that taste great is now a plus. New fiber ingredients make it possible to add fiber without altering taste and texture – or causing digestive upset, and we’re seeing more high-fiber claims on products. Because of this, high-fiber foods have great potential for success,” she says.

Chicory root is gaining ground
According to Beneo, 56% of European consumers associate prebiotics with immune health.

“There are windows of opportunity for producers who can exploit these concerns, which is why our prebiotic chicory root fibers are proving very popular with food and beverage producers,” says Annelore De Boe, Head of product 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, meaning supply may be tight. That’s why Beneo has invested more than 50 million euros (60 million US dollars) to increase the capacity of our chicory factory in Pemuco, Chile, in order to meet the growing demand.

A growing number of manufacturers are looking for chicory root fiber to create healthy and tasty food products, adds Vermulst, at Sensus.

“The chicory inulin market has grown rapidly, and the peak is still ahead of us. Chicory inulin and oligofructose will strongly dominate the prebiotic fiber market,” she explains.

“Versatile and verified natural chicory root fiber fits in very well with trends such as clean label, plant-based, gut health, mental wellness and immunity.”Fiber intake is becoming almost as important to consumers as protein, says CP Kelco.

Health claims supporting healthy food products are therefore of interest to food manufacturers, and products using Sensus Chicory Inulin may display a digestive health claim on the packaging even in Europe,” says Vermulst.

“A recent study at the University of Calgary with Professor Raylene Reimer showed that intakes as low as 3g of Sensus chicory root fiber per day can impact the microbiome and show a bifidogenic effect,” comments- she.

Chicory root fiber has been widely used in cereal bars in North America for years, and this application is also seeing strong growth in Asia and Europe now, Vermulst reveals. “What is also striking is that chicory root fiber continues to grow worldwide in bakery and reduced-sugar dairy applications,” she says.

According to Brigitte Peters, technical sales support at Sensus, insoluble fiber significantly affects texture and mouthfeel when added to food products.

“They generally absorb a lot of water, can lead to bad taste and provide physical particles in the final product. Water-soluble fibers, like chicory root fiber, do not have these drawbacks,” she comments.

“With the neutral or clean sweet taste, they do not negatively affect taste. This makes them applicable in a wide range of food products, not just for fiber enrichment. Chicory root fiber has the proven ability to replacing sugar, fat or both.With the lower calorie content, reformulation of products using chicory root fiber results in products with several health benefits: fewer calories, more fiber and a better profile. nutritional.”

Fiber in applications
According to Sarah Diedrich, Marketing Director of Sweetener Solutions and Fiber at ADM, many applications can benefit from added fiber, including sports nutrition products, beverages, baked goods, dairy products and desserts.

“In fact, according to Hartman Fiber Occasions (2019), fiber is present in 22% of all eating and drinking occasions,” she adds.

“Adding fiber to sports nutrition products is a great way to target satiety and weight management, something many everyday athletes seek,” Diedrich says.

“We are also seeing fiber stand out in the better-for-you snack category as consumers seek out additional nutrition while snacking. Crackers, flatbreads and cookies can specifically benefit from our Fibersol ingredient as it maintains the desired texture in application.

Plus, it improves the crispiness of baked goods like cookies and helps reduce sugar by up to 25%, she adds. “Crisps, snack mixes and other crunchy bites retain a crispy texture and can gain extended shelf life with Fibersol. Our soluble fiber is also a great solution for keto diet foods.

CP Kelco’s Sörgel believes fiber helps bring trends together, especially in the areas of sugar reduction, calorie reduction and overall feelings of well-being.

According to Sensus, the chicory inulin market has grown rapidly, and the peak is still ahead of us.“Consumers are increasingly interested in foods and beverages that provide functional health benefits. In protein bars and drinks, for example, fiber can be added to help cut calories and sugar, as it makes you feel fuller and aids in digestion and gut health.

“In addition to the popular snack category of protein bars and baked goods, we expect fiber-based ingredients to stand out in beverages, condiments, sauces, soups and meat in the coming months. “, she asserts.

We also know that formulators have to balance a lot – meeting their clean label goals, such as using sustainably sourced ingredients or having fewer ingredients on the label, with addressing functional issues such as stabilization and suspension, while delivering the mouthfeel, taste and flavor perception that consumers expect in a competitive market,” says Sörgel.

This is the main reason why CP Kelco developed NUTRAVA Citrus Fiber, which comes from an abundant supply of citrus peel raw materials, a by-product of the juice industry.

“This next-generation ingredient supports dietary fiber intake while providing emulsion stabilization and moisture control, and supporting fat, sugar and salt reduction efforts. It can even be used of egg substitute in vegan food products”, concludes Sörgel.

By Elizabeth Green

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