For a long time, dietary fibers were regarded as uneffective and possibly even damaging due to their indigestible properties – but that was until the first indications of their beneficial effects on the body became apparent, and everything that had previously been assumed turned out to be wrong. Nowadays, experts recommend regularly including foods rich in fiber in the diet. Prebiotic ingredients from the chicory root, such as Orafti® Inulin and Orafti® Oligofructose from BENEO, make the addition of fiber to a wide range of food and beverages both quick and easy. They help close the gap between actual consumption levels and the higher intake levels recommended for optimum health. Their positive effect on the digestive system has been scientifically proven and, in addition, they are easily processed by the body. Thanks to an EU health claim, these benefits can be communicated clearly and easily.
Global fiber deficiency
According to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, adults should consume an average of 30g of dietary fiber per day. However, it is well known that a large proportion of the population is unable to hit that target. In fact, according to Euromonitor International’s 2017 Passport Nutrition data only three countries consume more than this recommended amount.
Dietary fibers promote intestinal health by increasing stool volume, for example, and support regular bowel movements. They also supply the colon mucosa with nutrients to aid the intestinal barrier function. The prebiotic fibers, including inulin and oligofructose, have proven blood sugar and cholesterol-lowering effects and serve as food for “good” intestinal bacteria, encouraging their growth.
BENEO, as one of the leading manufacturers of functional ingredients, proved how positive dietary fibers and their favorable effects on intestinal health are perceived by consumers in a study, with the majority of respondents keen to look after their intestinal health. More than two-thirds of participants said it was the “good feeling and overall effect on health” that convinced them of the benefits of dietary fibers. In another international consumer study, 38 per cent of Europeans surveyed agreed with the statement that “a healthy lifestyle and thus also intestinal health is important to me”. A further 22 per cent said that they pay attention to their digestion because it makes them feel better.
Snacks with an improved nutritional profile
Numerous manufacturers offer a wide range of dietary fibers to enrich foods – from milk drinks and pasta, to snacks for in-between meals. BENEO’s chicory root fiber inulin and oligofructose are the only plant-based, clinically proven prebiotics in the market. Their technological and sensory properties also make them suitable as natural sugar reducers. In addition to fiber enrichment, the partial exchange of sugar has several other beneficial effects: Both the calorie content and the glycaemic effect can be reduced, because the dietary fibers in the small intestine are not digested and therefore do not release glucose into the blood stream. Additionally, BENEO’s chicory fiber received an EU health claim for a lower rise in blood sugar if chicory root fiber is used to replace sugars by 30 percent in a product.
These are all significant discoveries relevant to the growing consumer trend for snacking, along with demands for a healthier lifestyle. Based on consumer research by BENEO, only 11 percent of consumers said that they never snack, which means the majority are enjoying the growing accessibility of snacks and increased choices. What’s more, 81 percent of millennials said they are willing to spend more on food, including snacks, with health benefits.
The BENEO Technology Center regularly works on new samples to test the suitability of individual ingredients in various application areas. For baked goods, for example, the technologists developed a breakfast biscuit with Orafti® Inulin, which contains about half as much sugar as the reference product. But the biscuit is still sweet and crispy, and serves as a high-fiber snack for health-conscious consumers. This is a particularly relevant offering as one in every four consumers feels guilty after having an indulgent snack. In general, there is also a trend towards greater consumer concern over hidden sugars. Products with Orafti® Inulin therefore present healthier, tasty alternatives that meet consumer demand.
A further field of application for dietary fibers comes in the form of fat-reduced product variants. Orafti® Inulin provides a creamy, fat-like texture in water-based systems, while preserving sensory properties such as mouthfeel, body and creaminess. BENEO’s dietary fibers allow the production of ice cream, yoghurt and milk drinks with less fat and high dietary fiber content.
Logo for effective promotion
In order to select a suitable ingredient for a recipe, technological properties are important. But when it comes to functional foods, there is more to consider. Worldwide, 64 percent of consumers read the labels on food products and 1 in 3 consumers around the globe has increased their research on ingredients over the last year. Evidently, health-related information printed clearly on packaging is essential. Customers using BENEO fibers can exclusively use the authorised EU article 13.5 health claim “Chicory inulin contributes to normal bowel function by increasing stool frequency” on their products.
Since the official wording of this claim is complicated and can be difficult to understand, it can be combined with general health-related wellbeing claims under article 10.3 that include: “Chicory inulin promotes digestive health”, “Chicory root fiber supports a healthy and balanced digestive system” and “With prebiotic fiber”. In order to better convey the core message, BENEO has developed a “prebiotic” logo for Orafti® Inulin. The logo complements the EU Health Claim, so consumers can see at a glance that products bearing the logo support intestinal health. BENEO customers can use the logo on their packaging, but it may only be used in combination with the official EU Health Claim for Orafti® Inulin. In addition, manufacturers must state how much inulin is contained in one serving of the product. The effective dosage – in the case of Orafti® Inulin, 12g per day – must also be stated on the packaging.
Appreciated by consumers
In order to assess the practical use of the prebiotic logo, BENEO examined its attractiveness based on various food applications: More than two-thirds of those surveyed (70%) found a prebiotic logo on milk drinks to be “appealing or very appealing”. The study participants also found the logo attractive on yoghurts (65%), milk alternatives (63%), lactose-free products (61%) and children’s milk products (58%). For many applications, the use of such a consumer label is therefore a helpful tool for providing consumers with targeted information.
Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director of BENEO, comments,” BENEO research has shown that there is a growing consumer interest in ‘health from within’. We are happy to enable our customers to communicate on pack the proven health benefits of our chicory root fibers. As the only plant-based prebiotic on the market, BENEO’s functional fibers are well placed to help manufacturers create offerings that meet growing consumer demand for products that truly promote digestive wellness.”