Fiber market set to surge, but products must stress health benefits

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fiber, Nutrition

Demand for fiber in the US is forecast to more than double in the
next six years, with food manufacturers set to "tap into regions
with very few competitors but with high product demand,"
according to new research by Frost & Sullivan.

The study reveals that the nation's food fiber industry is estimated to reach $495.2 million by 2011, compared to $193.1 million in 2004.

With mounting evidence of the health benefits of fiber, food manufacturers are increasingly looking to make their products more appealing in the health food market and are now looking towards the fiber industry as a possible source of this appeal, said the report.

"The primary benefits of fiber lie in its capability to improve consumer appeal by providing statements about overall fiber content and health benefits,"​ it added.

In 1997, the US Food and Drug Administration passed legislation allowing foods with over 0.75 grams of the oat soluble fiber beta-glucan to carry heart healthy claims. Since then, there has been a body of scientific evidence revealing the health benefits of fiber.

Beyond weight control, the benefits of a fiber-rich diet include a reduction of blood cholesterol levels, a reduced risk of digestive diseases and a possible reduction in the risk of heart disease.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, published in January of this year, advise that adults consume between 25-30 grams of fiber a day.

However, it is currently estimated that on average Americans only consume 15 grams of fiber, leading many nutrition experts to believe that increased consumption should be more widely promoted to both men and women.

According to Frost & Sullivan, the fiber deficit in the average American diet means there is "a huge potential for growth in the food fiber industry."

"The key to tapping this growth is to educate the public and food manufacturers about the necessity of fiber for a healthy well-being,"​ said the market consultant.

"The most important challenge facing the food fiber industry is their ability to educate food product manufacturers about the functional benefits as well as the health benefits accompanied with fiber supplementation,"​ said Frost & Sullivan analyst Jennifer Steinke.

The report identifies the need for food fiber manufacturers to "aggressively target"​ the food industry with "new and creative ways of supplementing food products with fiber."

Indeed, a recent study conducted by HealthFocus International revealed how fiber sells if intake is linked to benefits such as energy management, weight management and digestive health in popular foods such as bread, cereal and pasta.

Some manufacturers are already looking at new ways of promoting fiber consumption. For example, in August cereal giant Kellogg launched the Fiber Challenge, a new initiative designed to promote its fiber-rich cereal products.

Related topics: Health, Ingredients

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