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Beneo: Rising regulatory demands push up functional fiber price

Beneo is set to implement a 5 percent price increase on its functional fibers, inulin and oligofructose, for food and feed applications. Citing operational costs and rising regulatory demands, the company notes that the price correction is needed to “ensure Beneo remains a reliable and credible industry partner.” The recent industry push for fiber inclusion has been galvanized by the increasing clinical evidence supporting fiber’s efficacy, as well as regulatory greenlights such as from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in June last year.

Derived from chicory root, inulin and oligofructose are two of the clinically proven plant-based prebiotic fibers. A comprehensive body of high quality scientific studies (in excess of 150) confirms the health benefits of Beneo’s chicory root fibers.

“Beneo’s prebiotic fibers are proving popular in the market. This positive development is because consumers appreciate the natural origin and proven health benefits of chicory-based prebiotic fibers. Additionally, the FDA fiber decision as well as the exclusive EU health claim for digestive health are supportive,” Eric Neven, Commercial Managing Director, Beneo-Orafti, tells.

Fiber’s rapid growth
With two-thirds of consumers in Europe and the US saying that digestive health is very important to them, products that tout gut-health continue to be on trend. The green-lighting of – what was initially – eight fibers by the FDA in June last year to be classified as “dietary fibers” on the Nutrition Facts label, marked a turning point for the industry.

The new Nutrition Facts labeling regulations initially included a list of eight fibers including: mixed plant cell wall fibers (a broad category that includes fibers like sugar cane fiber and apple fiber, among many others); arabinoxylan; alginate; inulin and inulin-typefructans; high amylose starch (resistant starch 2); galactooligosaccharide; polydextrose; and resistant maltodextrin/dextrin. Resistant Starch 4 (RS4) was the latest ingredient to be added to the list, gaining approval only months ago.

The official status of certain dietary fibers was seen as a significant moment for suppliers, with the industry commenting that it “halted a period of uncertainty,” and that innovation in the fiber space could begin again.

Over a year on from the announcement, key suppliers in the space noted that they have witnessed double-digit growth.

“Over the past year, we have been working with both new and existing customers to develop new ways to help more consumers benefit from chicory root fiber, and we expect this momentum to continue over the coming years,” Anke Sentko, Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Nutrition Communication at Beneo, tells.

Indeed, Innova Market Insights notes that awareness of digestive health is moving into the mainstream. In terms of Asia-Pacific market penetration, the baby and toddler subcategory topped the list with digestive health claims used for over 24 percent of launches in 2018, ahead of sports nutrition with 16.5 percent, dairy with 6.6 percent and cereals with 3.7 percent, according to data from the market researcher.

This has translated into wide-ranging NPD touting fiber and digestive health claims.

This month, plant-based, functional beverages brand Rebbl launched a new line of drinks that boast six grams of prebiotic fiber for digestive health. Sparkling Prebiotic Tonics are marketed as “refreshing” and “hydrating” and include flavor profiles such as cold-brew cola and ginger turmeric.

Such products increasingly appeal to consumers who are still mainly consuming fiber for digestive health, but newly discovered health benefits are driving applications as well. According to a consumer survey (2018) conducted by Innova Market Insights, 44 percent of US consumers are increasing their consumption of fiber, with 33 percent of UK consumers also doing so. In addition, a 21 percent average annual growth has been reported in new product launches carrying a fiber claim.

While in the ingredients space, GoodMills Innovation is launching High-MAC wheat bran, an ultra-finely ground and stabilized novel wheat ingredient. This allows it to be metabolized optimally by intestinal bacteria, says the company. The launch follows the company’s investment of almost €10 million in expanding its plant for future growth in the area of intestinal health.

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