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Special edition: Fiber

Can fiber continue its upward trajectory to rock star status?

By Stephen DANIELLS , 11-Dec-2012

Consumer demand for fiber-rich products is predicted to continue to sky rocket, with some industry observers claiming fiber will have ‘rock star’ status for the food and nutrition industries.

The US food fiber industry was expected to earn $495.2 million in 2011, according to Frost & Sullivan, but improved consumer awareness and understanding of the ingredient’s health benefits could see even great growth.

Speaking to NutraIngredients, Peggy Steele from DuPont recently said: “Fiber has the potential to be rock stars for the food industry.”

The US defines ‘dietary fiber’ and non-digestible food plant carbohydrates and lignin, while ‘added fiber’ refers to fiber added to foods during food processing. Total Fiber is a combination of the two.

Fiber intakes

Data from a 2008 International Food Information Council survey found 77% of people are proactively trying to consume additional fiber. Despite such good intentions, however, many Americans only achieve about 50% of their recommended amount of 25 to 30 grams of fiber daily.

Packaged Facts estimates that in 2004, 91% of all fiber food ingredient sales were of conventional, insoluble-type fibers, which contains cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin and cannot be dissolved in water.

The remaining 9% share was split evenly between conventional, soluble-type fibers and emerging, novel fibers. The market researcher projects that insoluble fibers will decrease to 53.3% by 2014, while the share for the mostly new or newly refined conventional, soluble-type fibers will decrease slightly to 7.4%.

Supplements

Food applications like bakery have been the main source of fiber for consumers, with data from Euromonitor indicating that that, in 2012, high fiber bakery products made up 87% of all high fiber food.

Fiber supplements have not worked out so well in many markets, with data indicating that such products are “only present in four markets according to Euromonitor International’s Consumer Health data”.

Data from IBISWorld’s Dietary Fiber Supplement Manufacturing market research report valued the fiber supplement market at $299 million, with annual growth between 2007 and 2012 of only 0.3%.

“Because these items are not necessary for many Americans, sales fell in 2009 as consumers reduced spending during the recession.”

Europe

The US market for high-fiber products in general remains strong, however, and a recent survey by functional ingredients group Beneo indicated that the US trend for ‘all things fiber’ has steadily entered Europe with intake now considered more important than calorie counting among consumer.

Data from four European countries – Spain, Germany, Poland and the UK – showed that 62% of respondents from all countries said consuming enough fiber was important. This compared to 56% that said calorie reduction was important.

“We can see that the US trend for all things fiber is steadily entering Europe, with the UK as the trendsetter,” said Myriam Snaet, market research manager at Beneo.

“We are seeing UK consumers placing high importance on ensuring that they are achieving their recommended daily fiber intake levels. With 66% replying that they do care about their fiber consumption, significantly higher than the overall percentage for all four countries,” Snaet said.

The whole grain influence

For many consumers, high fiber foods and whole grain foods are very similar, and some market research organizations consider the two together. Indeed, Whole Grain and High Fiber Foods report from Global Industry Analysts predicted the global market for whole grain and high fiber foods will reach a staggering $27.6 billion by 2017, as the US continues to dominate the market

Market growth is being driven by innovative products with improved tastes and flavors coupled with increasing attention towards the health benefits of whole grains and a high fiber diet are driving market growth.

Stats

According to the Whole Grain Council, as of March 2012 the Whole Grain Stamp is included on the label of over 6,600 different products on 35 different countries.

Whole grain consumption has increased 20% from 2005 to 2008, according to data from consumer researchers NPD Group. The greatest increase has been seen in the Millenials (people aged from 18 to 34) with consumption rising 38% during the same period.

Data from Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD), there were almost 20 times as many new whole grain product launches in 2010 than in 2000. Indeed, the number of new products launches has been steadily increasing (blue line on graph below). In 2006, 1601 products were launched, says the GNPD, while there were 3378 launches in 2011.

Regions & products

While the US constitutes the largest regional market for whole grain and high fiber foods, Asia-Pacific represents the fastest growing regional market, displaying a compound growth rate of 6.82% through 2017, says the report.

In terms of the product segments, bakery and breakfast cereals dominate, according to Mintel, with 1228 new whole grain bakery products and 1039 whole grain breakfast cereals launched in 2011, compared with 484 snacks (the next big segment).

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