Consumers understand the health benefits of consuming fibre but knowledge on recommended daily consumption levels is low and industry must work to educate in this area, Sensus says.
Europe is the second largest wholegrain and dietary fibre market amid a global sector set to hit €22.4bn by 2017, according to Global Industry Analysts (GIA) data.
Amid this growth, Netherlands head-quartered ingredients firm Sensus has found that there is room for consumer education, particularly on intake levels, following an online survey it commissioned Datamonitor to conduct.
Pooling data from 2,500 respondents across seven countries (US, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Spain, Italy and France), findings showed that only 22% of active fibre consumers could identify the correct recommended daily intake despite more than half convinced they consume enough each day.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommends a daily fibre intake of 25g for adults. However, Sensus’ research paper cites data that European adults only consume 20g per day and US 15g.
Jolanda Vermulst, market intelligence manager at Sensus, said that there is clearly room for education on intake levels.
“The survey shows consumers have clear interest in good-tasting, fibre-rich foods and they are aware of the healthy benefits, they only lack sufficient knowledge about daily requirements,” Vermulst told FoodNavigator.
Education on consumption level guidelines is a job for both government and industry, she said, but “industry can take advantage of this already instead of waiting for the government.”
Package that education
“Labelling is very important,” Vermulst said, and manufacturers need to provide clear communication about fibre consumption guidelines directly on the products.
Survey findings indicated that under half (43%) of European active fibre consumers consider the ‘lack of clear labelling’ to be a significant impediment to measure their daily fibre intake.
“Food manufacturers must do more to market and promote fibre-rich products and their benefits. One key is to provide information important to active consumers, especially benefit explanations, consumption guidelines or label information,” the Sensus paper read.
The survey showed that digestive and general health, weight management and satiety are key motivators in driving purchases of fibre-rich foods.
However, “consumers don’t know fibre can be a sugar substitute…in which case calories are reduced and healthy fibre is added,” Vermulst said.
“With a growing number of consumers carefully reading packaging before making a decision to purchase, manufacturers can use package labels to highlight that products are low fat, 0% sugar, and high in fibre to trigger purchases. At the same time, educate consumers through clear and informative marketing and communication,” it said.
While manufacturers within the EU can no longer make ‘prebiotic’ health claims on inulin-based foods, nutrient content claims such as ‘source of fibre’ and ‘high fibre’ can still be used.
Sensus suggests that manufacturer’s position fibre as a good tasting ingredient that forms part of a healthy diet with a low-caloric value.