Research moves fiber forward
October 15, 2010
Fiber is an ingredient that is spanning beverage categories these days. By far, juice and juice drinks lead with the most new products introduced that include fiber, high in fiber and fiber added claims. From January 2009 to June 2010, 46.5 percent of new U.S. juice and juice drinks made some type of fiber claim, reports Innova Market Insights, Duiven, The Netherlands.
More than 25 percent of new drink concentrates and mixes also included fiber claims in the United States during the time period, followed by 10.9 percent of energy and sports drinks and 9.3 percent of flavored bottled waters. Even 5.4 percent of new iced teas supported a fiber claim in the United States during the time period, Innova Market Insights says.
With reports that most Americans consume only about half the recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily, companies are introducing waves of new fiber-fortified beverages and foods, according to the report “Fiber Food Ingredients in the U.S.: Soluble-, Insoluble- and Digestive-Resistant Types” by market researcher Packaged Facts, New York. Coinciding with the increased activity are numerous growth opportunities that will also create shifts in the types of fiber ingredients used in future products, the company says.
“Packaged Facts determined that sales of all fiber food ingredients (i.e., conventional, insoluble-type fibers; conventional, soluble-type fibers; and novel fiber food ingredients) will continue to increase indefinitely, as the market for fiber-enhanced foods is still in its infancy,” said Don Montuori, publisher of Packaged Facts, in a statement.
Formulators are embracing novel fibers—most of which have been available to formulators since 2000 or for an even shorter period of time, Packaged Facts says. Novel fibers have gained the attention of formulators due to their versatility and invisible nature in food applications that previously were not conducive to fiber enrichment, it says. This, along with the desire of food manufacturers to increase the soluble fiber content of foods, has Packaged Facts predicting that the novel fiber food ingredient category will increase its share of the market by more than 750 percent, jumping 35 percentage points from an almost 5 percent share in 2004 to a 39 percent share in 2014.
Packaged Facts estimates that in 2004, 91 percent of all fiber food ingredient sales were of conventional insoluble-type fibers—the fiber food ingredients that have historically been used the most in food formulations. The remaining 9 percent share was split evenly between conventional soluble-type fibers and emerging novel fibers. Future projections are that the share for conventional insoluble-type fibers will decrease by 41 percent, or 38 percentage points in 2014, while the share for the mostly new or newly refined conventional soluble-type fibers will increase 64 percent, Package Facts says.
The poly/oligosaccharides fibers used in beverages tend to be featured for their texturizing and stabilizing properties. However, the three most successful ingredients in this category can also serve other purposes beyond this, reports Euromonitor International, Chicago. The functional fibers, oligofructose and inulin, also can be used as prebiotic functional additives and are becoming increasingly popular in functional products within the liquid dairy categories. Meanwhile, fructo-oligosaccharides of this kind can be used to replace sugar, as is also the case with maltodextrin, the research firm says.
Over the next five years, oligofructose is forecast to take over as the single most important poly/oligosaccharide ingredient in beverage markets globally, with a compound annual growth rate of more than 8 percent from 2009 to 2014, Euromonitor reports. Similarly strong growth will be seen in the inulin category, while maltodextrin will continue to show highly respectable growth of almost 4 percent per annum as beverage companies turn to more natural sweeteners.
Lack of knowledge
Despite beverage-formulators attempts to attract consumers with fiber-fortified beverages, research from Mintel International, Chicago, suggests fiber is noticeably absent from the typical American diet. This may be explained by the 27 percent of respondents who think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste.
“Many people have negative perceptions about the taste of fiber,” said Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior health and wellness analyst at Mintel, in a statement. “The taste deters them from eating a fiber-added product that has numerous health benefits.”
Twenty-five percent of respondents to Mintel’s survey think fiber is only necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems, with men being more likely than women to hold this belief. Thirty percent of men (compared to 23 percent of women) also believe supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.
Despite the fact that research shows that a lack of fiber is linked to various cancers, heart disease and diabetes, 22 percent of consumers don’t know enough about fiber to know if it is important to their health, Mintel reports. Furthermore, 37 percent believe they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and food with added fiber are unnecessary.
“Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium and calorie intake than they are to eat naturally fiber-rich foods,” Molly Heyl-Rushmer said. “Adults don’t fully understand the link between fiber and health.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge for consumers is where to get fiber in their diet, says Mike Klacik, senior business director of global nutrition at National Starch LLC, Bridgewater, N.J.
“A five-year-old public health recommendation is still impacting today’s U.S. fiber discussions in the U.S. media and food and beverage industry â€” that being the 2005 Dietary Guidelines—one of the primary recommendations was that consumers increase their consumption of whole grains,” he says. “Those recommendations assumed that fiber consumption would increase if whole grain consumption did. However, most whole grains and whole-grain foods are too diluted to deliver adequate fiber intake—unless the consumer eats an extraordinary number of servings per day of whole grain, or by adding fiber to whole grain foods. So, the U.S. remains at a dietary fiber intake deficit, and the food and beverage industry still has the opportunity to help close that daily gap by offering foods and beverages with added fiber.”
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines did not address this ongoing gap directly, he adds. “The new guidelines simply recommended that consumers eat more foods with naturally occurring fiber,” Klacik says.
While consumer knowledge about fiber may be limited, the interest in the ingredient is growing as the population ages and positive science around its benefits emerge, says Sam Wright, president and chief executive officer of The Wright Group, Crowley, La.
“About 16 percent of the U.S. pop-ulation is over 65, and this proportion will increase over the next several decades to 25 percent or so,” he says. “Digestive health and immunity have become major health concerns of this segment and fiber, as well as probiotics, has seen dramatic growth as a result.”
Fiber is one of the health ingredients that have become “bullet proof” from a regulatory standpoint, and unanimity exists among scientific experts that Americans need to get more in their diets, Wright says. “The recommended 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men of daily fiber may be difficult for some consumers to get in a conventional diet,” he says.
On average, Americans consume only 12 grams of fiber per day, which is well below the intake recommendations, says Carrie Livingston, a spokesperson for ADM/Matsutani America. “By incorporating fiber into various food products, such as beverages, overall dietary fiber consumption can be increased,” she says.
The growing amount of research about fiber’s health benefits also is helping the ingredient to increase its profile.
“The biggest reason, in my opinion, is the fact that clinical studies on various types of fibers done in many universities and accredited research institutions continue to show that these ingredients have many health benefits and are linked to cardiovascular health, digestive and colon health, immune boosting function, are good for weight management and diabetes, and for some specific fibers, they are clinically shown to bind heavy metals and drugs in the blood for excretion,” says Mar Nieto, senior principal scientist at TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md.
Decatur, Ill.-based Tate & Lyle’s most recent consumer market research found two reasons for increased consumer interest in fiber. First, 65 percent of consumers are thinking more about health and more than 60 percent believe digestive health is the most important health concern. Second, 67 percent of consumers believe fiber is useful in helping to maintain or control digestive health, Tate & Lyle’s research found.
Digestive health is a growing category, particularly for children’s products. In Tate & Lyle’s consumer market research, the company found that nearly 70 percent of U.S. parents believe fiber is an important component of their children’s health, and 35 percent of U.S. parents believe the benefits of consuming products with fiber help their children with digestion, the company says.
“Beverages with fiber that are developed specifically for children are growth areas for companies,” says Pashen Black, marketing communications manager at Tate & Lyle.
Beverages are a good medium to deliver certain types of fiber for several reasons.
“Beverages are convenience foods and a very big part of the American diet and have been shown to be a good medium for thin soluble fibers, such as gum Arabic, inulin, larch and resistant maltodextrin, which are being promoted for their prebiotic effects,” Nieto says. “However, I don’t think they are a very good medium for thick soluble fibers. Unfortunately, thick soluble fibers, which provide different health benefits to consumers, are not as easy to use in these products. Beta-glucan, guar, konjac and pectin have been shown to be good for lowering cholesterol, and for weight and diabetes management. However, they are thick and will make the beverage unacceptable at a functional dose.”
Ingredient science has been at the root of these innovations, Wright says. “There are many soluble fiber ingredients that are tasteless, colorless, non-bloating and low viscosity which makes them suitable for use in even a clear beverage, which is the ‘Holy Grail’ of beverage fortification,” he explains. “Some fibers, like Lonza’s FiberAid larch arabinogalactan product also have prebiotic effects, which allow companies to achieve a more sophisticated positioning in the immunity as well as the digestive health space.”
It is also easy to deliver sufficient fiber per beverage serving to reach the nutrient content claims of “good source of fiber” and “excellent source of fiber,” plus it’s more convenient for consumers to have more than one serving per day from a beverage, National Starch’s Klacik says. In addition, from a practical standpoint, few, if any, processing issues exist since many soluble fibers disperse easily, he says. Additionally, some soluble fibers, such as National Starch’s Nutriose have little or no impact on taste and appearance in a beverage.
Fiber can be included in a range of non-carbonated beverages. Adding thin soluble fibers to beverages like fruit juices, tea, coffee or any thin drink is easy but consumers need to be willing to pay for the fiber cost, TIC Gums’ Nieto says. For the thick soluble fiber, beverages like fruit nectars, milk shakes, chocolate drinks and dysphasia drinks are good vehicles since these products are naturally thick or thicker and could potentially be more cost effective, he says.
As more research shows the beneficial relationship between probiotics and prebiotics, more yogurt-based beverages are entering the market, Tate & Lyle’s Black says. The company’s consumer market research shows that Americans are interested in these yogurt-based products as well as juice, bottled water, energy drinks and meal replacements drinks that contain fiber.
Tate & Lyle’s research found: more than 50 percent of consumers find powered soft drinks with “an excellent source of fiber” appealing, 43 percent of consumers believe bottled water with an “excellent source of fiber” is appealing, 56 percent believe bottled water with a “promotes good digestion” claim is appealing, 67 percent of consumers believe energy drinks that “promote good digestion” are appealing and 67 percent of consumers believe meal replacement beverages with a “promotes healthy digestion” benefit is appealing.
When formulating beverages with fiber, challenges in stability during processing and storage may arise. The low pH of most beverages can break down many fibers, says Michelle Schwenk, food scientist at Tate & Lyle. At times, challenges in viscosity, color or flavor may exist when adding fiber to beverages, she says.
“Many of these challenges can be addressed by formulating with a stable, low-color and low-flavor fiber,” Schwenk says.
Tate & Lyle offers Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber and Sta-Lite Polydextrose, which are available in a liquid form so they can be added easily to many kinds of beverages, she says. These fibers also are available in an agglomerated form, which is suitable for dry mixes and stick packs.
Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber and Sta-Lite Polydextrose are highly soluble and have low color and flavor, so they can be added nearly invisibly, at levels even beyond an excellent source of fiber, Schwenk says. Tate & Lyle’s newest fiber, Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber 85 is 1.2 calories per gram and lower in sugar, which helps manufacturers reduce calories without affecting taste or texture, she explains. At only 1 gram per calorie, Sta-Lite Polydextrose also is low in calories.
Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber is very well tolerated with mild to no gastrointestinal effects up to 25 grams. This allows all the benefits of fiber without the undesirable side effects experienced with using competitive fibers, Schwenk says. Promitor Soluble Corn Fiber has been shown to support good digestive health and have prebiotic effects. It does this by promoting the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine, Schwenk says. It also is fermented in the large intestine to produce substances (short chain fatty acids) that promote a healthy gut.
Some fiber ingredients can exhibit a gritty mouthfeel, create excessive gumminess, or alter the viscosity to an unacceptable extent in beverages.
“Understanding the properties of different fibers, their reaction with water and other ingredients in the beverage system, their functionalities in the beverage systems, their stability at different pH, temperature and processing conditions are critical for formulators to select proper type of fiber and create high quality fiber fortified beverages,” Wright says.
Not all soluble fibers have a neutral flavor. Most fibers contribute an off-taste that requires reformulation of the flavor profile, National Starch’s Klacik says. Likewise, not all soluble fibers can be consumed without potential gastrointestinal side-effects.
“The typical consumer can only tolerate 15 grams per day of some frequently used soluble fibers,” Klacik says. “Exceeding this dosage by consuming perhaps two beverages and a breakfast cereal can lead to gastric distress – excessive gas and bloating.”
National Starch offers two soluble fibers for the beverage industry, Nutriose FM 06 (derived from corn) and Nutriose FB 06 (derived from wheat) that address the issues of off-tastes and gastrointestinal side effects. They are prebiotic fibers with 2 kcal per gram that are technically classified as digestion-resistant dextrins and provide the benefits of dietary fiber, Klacik says.
Nutriose is highly soluble and agglomerated, and, therefore, disperses easily in high-moisture systems under mild agitation with no dilutents required, Klacik says. In solution with water, Nutriose is clear and has very low viscosity. In addition to adding fiber, Nutriose adds body to beverages that have been reformulated to reduce fat and/or sugar, and the fiber also is compatible with high-intensity sweeteners.
Both forms of Nutriose are suitable for nearly any type of non-alcohol, non-carbonated beverage, including juices, milk replacers and waters.
The grittiness that can be created by adding insoluble fiber to beverages adversely affects mouthfeel and makes the beverage gritty. However, the grit can be overcome by using thick soluble fiber and insoluble fiber together, TIC Gums’ Nieto. “The thick soluble fibers have lubricating effect on the insoluble fiber and will greatly reduce the graininess,” he explains. “If both are used in drinks that are naturally thick like nectars, chocolate shakes or dysphasia diets, the combination can work.”
TIC Gums offers an array of fiber ingredients, both soluble and insoluble. In the soluble fiber arena, TIC Gums offers thin soluble fibers such as gum Arabic and inulin and custom blends containing these two gums and other fibers. Many of these systems are all natural and/or available 100 percent organic. TIC Gums also offer thick soluble fibers including flavor-free guar gum, konjac and pectin. In addition, TIC Gums offers proprietary fiber blends of thick and thin soluble fibers or soluble and insoluble fibers that address the need of the industry for fiber fortification of beverages.
Fibersol-2 digestion resistant maltodextrin from ADM/Matsutani America can be incorporated into a wide range of beverage applications to address the challenges of solubility, texture, color and flavor. Fibersol-2 serves to enhance the overall nutritional profile of the beverage through the addition of soluble dietary fiber, Livingston says. Fibersol-2 is stable in acidic conditions, elevated temperatures and once dissolved the solution is transparent. In addition, Fibersol-2 does not break down, thus being stable throughout its shelf life. BI