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Filling the Fiber Gap


Women younger than 50 need about 25 g of fiber per day, and men younger than 50 need 38 g (the daily values are a few grams lower for adults older than 50). But on average, American women get about 13 g and men 17 g, according to a 2005 report by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.

Manufacturers have striven to help consumers fill that gap, identifying and developing a variety of fiber sources to add to everyday foods, and therefore, the state of the market for natural dietary fiber ingredients in functional foods is strong:

• Mintel records an increase of more than 30 percent of new food launches in the U.S. with a high/added fiber claim.1

• U.S. consumers are health conscious (IFIC food survey 2013 shows that more than one out of two U.S. consumers has given a lot of thought to the healthfulness of foods/beverages they consume) and look for functional foods with an additional health benefit such as fiberenriched foods.

• Fifty-six percent of U.S. consumers try to lose weight, and an additional 27 percent try to maintain their weight, implying a huge potential of nourishing delicious foods, where natural prebiotic fiber fits in perfectly.2

Uses & Applications 

Joseph O’Neill, president and general manager of New Jersey-based BENEO Inc., said the company’s prebiotic fibers inulin and oligofructose are water-soluble and can be used in a large variety of products such as baked goods, cereals or dairy products but also in fruit preparations, frozen desserts or beverages.

Next to their nutritional benefits, these ingredients offer various technological benefits. For example, in low-fat dairy products, BENEO’s Orafti inulin acts perfectly as a fat replacer, providing a creamy mouth feel and body, according to O’Neill. “The white, odorless, soluble powder has no off-taste and can stabilize water into a creamy structure,” he said. “As BENEO’s Orafti inulin delivers a similar mouth feel to fat, it helps to reduce the energy/caloric content of food products. In addition, BENEO’s Orafti inulin and oligofructose, all-natural fibers are used to replace sugar without adversely affecting taste or texture in a wide variety of food products. The products are also used to mask off notes associated with high intensity sweeteners.” 

According to Mintel GNPD 2013, the main applications of fibers are cereal bars and breakfast cereals, bread products and biscuits, O’Neill noted, adding that the company sees a consumer interest in further applications such as yogurt, smoothies and pasta, providing potential for product innovation. “One of the topics where we see a lot of potential is healthy snacking. With four out of 10 consumers choosing healthy snacks, the market for ‘guilt-free’ snacking looks set to rise. As consumers become more aware of the beneficial effects of higher fiber intake, healthy Snacking solutions bridging the ‘fiber gap’ are bringing new opportunities to manufacturers”. BENEO’s soluble prebiotic fibers inulin and oligofructose are easily incorporated into foods and beverages, promoting a healthy gut flora, while maintaining taste and texture, O’Neill added.

Health Benefits 

Many consumers assume that a product containing whole grains will also have increased fiber content compared to a product made without whole grains. However, this is not always the case and not all whole grains are equivalent in fiber content. Bakers are looking for ways to increase the overall fiber content of their finished product when whole grains alone are not enough—for example, a manufacturer producing a product to achieve 8 to 16 g of whole grains per serving and qualify for one of the Whole Grains Council’s Whole Grain Stamps. These manufacturers typically want to reach desired fiber content to qualify for fiber claims as well. Depending upon the whole grains selected, bakers may find that meeting the desired fiber content can be challenging.

The Fibersol line of dietary fibers can help boost the fiber content of these finished products. The line, which includes a digestion resistant maltodextrin, is a joint venture between Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), Matsutani Chemical Industry Co., Ltd., and Matsutani America, Inc., with U.S. offices in Illinois. Käti Ledbetter, product development scientist for ADM, said in a press release that manufacturers who add Fibersol can easily increase the fiber content of a product to help achieve a “good source” (2. 5 g) or “excellent source” (5 g) of total fiber—or more—per serving. The addition of Fibersol into the product mix works in combination with the whole grains and boosts the overall fiber content to the levels for which consumers are looking.

“Fibersol is an ideal ingredient to incorporate into a variety of whole grain-based bakery applications as it increases the fiber content of the finished product, and delivers fewer sugars and calories than 4 kilocalorie per gram carbohydrates,” Ledbetter noted. “Giving the consumer ‘better-for-you’ options is here to stay and Fibersol products can help manufacturers meet this growing need. The addition of Fibersol into whole grain-based applications can help close this gap and raise a product’s fiber levels to help reach desired fiber content/label claims with minimal product effects.” 

Meanwhile, BENEO’s inulin and oligofructose are prebiotic fibers naturally derived from chicory, and help to improve the digestive system. They replace fat and sugar, and can reduce the caloric value of products, without altering its taste or texture. Further, they even help individuals to eat less and thus contribute in various ways to weight management. Moreover, BENEO’s prebiotic fibers support the absorption of more essential minerals (e.g. calcium) from foods, contributing to bone health and general well-being.

Functional Innovation 

Fibers fit nicely in innovative health Snacking products, such as convenient breakfast options to eat on-the-go with health and nutritional benefits, O’Neill said. One example is nourishing fiberenriched breakfast drinks that have been presented by BENEO at this year’s drinktec in Munich, Germany. At the show, BENEO highlighted a ready-to-drink coffee made with Palatinose and Orafti HSI (highly soluble inulin). “Palatinose provides full carbohydrate energy in a balanced way, resulting in a low glycemic effect, while the prebiotic fiber inulin can help to improve the digestive system,” O’Neill explained. “For visitors who have a penchant for chocolate, BENEO has developed a chocolate-flavored fiber shake with an indulgent, creamy mouth feel using the ingredients Palatinose and Orafti HSI.”

The Fibersol line offers manufacturers a portfolio of solutions that can fit their development needs. The line also gives manufacturers options when looking not only at fiber addition, but other solutions such as reducing sugar and calorie content in their products to adding finished product attributes (i.e., softness in various moist and intermediate moisture foods, and adding crispiness to lower-moisture foods to extend shelf life). Further, Fibersol’s line allows for fiber fortification with minimal formulation and process adjustments while maintaining the desired finished product characteristics.


1: Mintel GNPD [Global New Products Database], 2013 

2: IFIC Food & Health Survey, 2013

“One of the topics where we see a lot of potential is healthy snacking. With four out of 10 consumers choosing healthy snacks, the market for ‘guilt-free’ snacking looks set to rise.

— Joseph O’Neill, President and General Manager, BENEO Inc.

Albion Minerals®