Food Marketing & Technology India magazine interacted with Christian Philippsen, Managining Director BENEO Asia-Pacific Pvt. Ltd. He is responsible in charting the course of the BENEO’s business and ensuring that the company enjoys sustainable growth in the Asia Pacific.

1  What according to you are the essential ingredients for a healthy life-style?

Two of the most important groups of ingredients we consume are carbohydrates and fibers. One of the things that can really affect people’s health is the quality of these ingredients.

2 How does BENEO cater to the latest trends and developments in the food & beverage sector?

 Healthcare experts and governments across the world have been warning against high sugar intake and its ill effects for some time. In addition, more and more people are studying nutrition labels on products; consumers today are seeking foods which are more balanced.

Sugar is a carbohydrate, and to help food manufacturers improve the quality of the carbohydrates in their products, BENEO has developed Palatinose™, a next generation sugar which helps with blood sugar management.

Due to its unique bonding of glucose and fructose, Palatinose™ is fully – yet slowly – digested, which provides balanced and sustained energy with a lower blood glucose rise and insulin release. This means consumers do not get an initial burst of energy followed by the dreaded ‘sugar crash’.

Another trend is the rapid urbanisation and increasingly hectic lifestyles across the region. This means many people are leaning towards convenient, easy-to-consume products that are often highly processed, laden with saturated fat and sugar, and low in fiber. In that case, it’s hardly surprising that digestive discomfort, which includes symptoms like constipation and bloating, is a common dietary problem in Asia and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is on the rise.

The health issues triggered by this quick evolution in lifestyle are especially stark in India. According to the World Gastroenterology Organisation, there has been a steady rise in the incidences of IBD in India after the 1980s1.

This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to help consumers improve their gut health with functional fibers. BENEO has developed functional fibers Orafti Inulin and Orafti Oligofructose, which help restore the balance in our intestinal flora by stimulating beneficial bifidobacteria growth — an important element of good digestive health.
Prebiotic fibers, sourced from chicory root, nourish the beneficial microbiota that is naturally present in the intestinal tract, ensuring their optimal development. By supporting digestive health, they contribute to our inner well-being. BENEO’s Orafti Inulin and Oligofructose are prebiotic, non-digestible carbohydrates that can be used to enrich the fiber content of a wide range of food and drink products.

With half the calories of sugar and all of the nutritional benefits of fiber, BENEO’s Inulin and Oligofructose also offer food producers many technological advantages. In addition to providing bulking when used as sugar replacers and enabling texture to be maintained, inulin’s fat-mimicking properties can also be used to replace a part of the fat content in foods. This improves the nutritional profile of the product, without any major changes to its texture or taste. As a result, prebiotic fibers enable food manufacturers to produce reduced-fat and reduced-sugar versions of traditionally indulgent food products such as ice cream, cookies, yoghurt, dairy drinks or smoothies, whilst promoting positive gut health and keeping the impact on blood glucose levels to a minimum.

Over the past ten years, BENEO has focused on continuously building the scientific substantiation of its ingredients, also testing their potential through consumer studies and providing manufacturers with ingredients that meet today’s customer expectations. As the only plant-based prebiotic on the market, BENEO’s functional fibers are well placed to help manufacturers create products that meet growing consumer interest that truly promote digestive wellness.

3 What is your view towards using plant-based alternatives in your product?

All of BENEO’s products are derived from natural sources. We are seeing a new trend across the world with consumers seeking healthier lifestyles through eating more natural foods. They want products to be additive-free, have a simple ingredient list, and be minimally processed. Growing suspicions about ‘hidden’ ingredients in food products and safety concerns surrounding the food supply chain are also prompting consumers to prefer natural products.

There are a growing number of savvy consumers in Asia Pacific who are becoming concerned about the environmental impact of livestock farming and are on the lookout for alternative protein sources.

Plant proteins like wheat protein are a source of essential amino acids which the body cannot produce itself. These types of plant proteins can provide excellent meat-like structures and tastes to successfully mimic the original textures of red meat and poultry food. Being neutral in smell and taste, they can also be used in a wide range of food products, including the meat-based items.

BeneoPro VWG and BeneoPro W-Tex are some examples of non-GMO, clean label plant-based proteins. BeneoPro VWG is a vital wheat gluten that is naturally produced by milling grain and separating the vital wheat gluten, which is then dried. On the other hand, BeneoPro W-Tex is an affordable and nutritious textured wheat protein with a stable fibrous structure, making it suitable for partial or complete meat replacement.

4 How is the market of Food & Beverage in India? Which are the main focus areas?

According to the IBEF, the Indian food and grocery market is the sixth largest in the world and is rapidly growing. According to officials at the World Food India 2017 Conference, the Indian food market is expected to reach $540 billion in 2020.

Driven by increasingly hectic lifestyles, the packaged food market will grow by five times to $200 billion over the next 10 years2. In terms of areas of focus for manufacturers and the food & beverage industry in general, there will be increasing demand for items like juice, baked goods, biscuits, and chocolates.

At BENEO, we recognise the importance of India’s fast-growing market and in 2016 we opened an office in Delhi so that we could be closer to our customers and serve them better with a mix of local knowledge and global expertise.

5 From a long-term and strategic perspective, how will you define value addition in food products?

Food manufacturers face evolving demands from customers, not to mention changing regulatory requirements. At BENEO we work hard to ensure we provide ingredients which can help manufacturers meet these shifting demands and requirements — for instance with our natural sugar substitute Palatinose can help manufacturers meet government pressure to reduce sugar while addressing consumers’ desire for natural ingredients.

We also work closely with manufacturers to help them reformulate existing products with our ingredients, ensuring products keep the same taste and texture which customers recognise.

6 In terms of business plan, how can we maximise the significant growth potential for the food and beverage sector?

It is important that food manufacturers identify emerging trends early and create products which cater to these trends, as they are the driving force for growth in the food and beverage sector. For instance, the total market for fitness in India is valued around Rs. 4,670 Cr, growing at 17-19 per cent per year3, meaning there is huge opportunity in the sports nutrition market, which BENEO can help manufacturers cater to with its functional carbohydrates.

7 Companies are shifting their focus on growth and investment for global expansion. How will you define your growth?

Through local offices and distributors, BENEO has established a presence in key markets across Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Americas. This includes India, where we opened an office in Delhi in 2016 to service the rapidly-growing market.

Local presence in key established and growing markets allows us to service our customers better by providing a combination of global capabilities with local expertise.