Overcoming the fibre gap with snacks that appeal to today’s consumer

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

According to BENEO, more than 70% of consumers are now concerned with gut health. Pic: BENEO
According to BENEO, more than 70% of consumers are now concerned with gut health. Pic: BENEO

Related tags Fibre prebiotic fibre Beneo bifidobacteria

Gut health is trending across the globe, with 77% of consumers now affected by digestive issues or concerned about digestive wellness. Thomas Schmidt, marketing director at BENEO, discusses the role that fibre is playing in this.

According to research on prebiotics conducted by BENEO in July 2017, more than a third of Europeans agree with the phrase that ‘a healthy lifestyle is important to me and looking after my digestive health is part of it’.

However, many still struggle with consuming their daily recommended intake of fibre.

One reason for this is that products that could help to bridge the fibre-gap are often not easy to recognise.

BENEO commissioned consumer research in five European countries – the UK, Spain, Germany, France and Poland – on the perception of fibre and found that both ‘fibre’ and ‘prebiotic’ on-pack claims are gaining traction.

Europeans find the ‘high in fibre’ claim appealing or very appealing, along with the claims ‘promotes a healthy and balanced digestive system’ and ‘promotes digestive health naturally’. 

Chicory root_copyright BENEO
Chicory root. Pic: BENEO

Similarly, consumer research from FMCG Gurus has shown that consumers are attracted to naturally fibre-rich product, with eight in 10 Europeans agreeing that chicory root fibre or vegetable fibre from chicory is the most natural sounding.

More than two thirds see the benefit of fibre enrichment through breakfast cereals and bread, while a similar number like the idea of getting fibre from cereal bars.

The rise of inulin

There are a number of fibres that promote different properties related to digestive health.

Some particular fermentable fibres are both a prebiotic and a good source of fibre. They selectively grow beneficial bacteria; typically, bifidobacteria are a marker for this. BENEO’s inulin and oligofructose, derived from chicory root, belong to the very few scientifically proven prebiotic fibres and a comprehensive body of high-quality studies (in excess of 150) confirms their health benefits.

Recently, industry expert Julian Mellentin highlighted the potential for inulin, naming it a top ingredient for 2020.

“For companies who choose to use inulin in their brands for digestive benefits, a big plus is that it delivers a ‘feel-the benefit’ effect – one of the most compelling reasons for someone to keep buying a product and one of the biggest marketing advantages you can have,”​ he wrote in his report 10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2020.

Another key criteria to attract returning customers is taste. However, fibre-enriched products tend to have a grainy or bland taste, so manufacturers need to choose ingredients wisely and that have an appeal.

Luckily, inulin is soluble and has a neutral and balanced flavour that maintains the taste of a product, yet it delivers in mouthfeel, texture and creaminess. BENEO’s Orafti Inulin and Oligofructose can be easily integrated into various applications, aids in boosting digestive health and is clean label to boot.

Growing opportunities

As consumers continue to find it challenging to meet recommended fibre levels by solely consuming fibre-rich food groups, such as vegetables, grains and fruits, there is a significant market opportunity for producers to add prebiotic fibre into snacks that will boost their appeal to consumers.

By developing great tasting products that offer added digestive health benefits, as well as keeping aligned to major consumption trends, bakery and snack producers can help consumers keep their digestive systems healthy, naturally and with ease, without having to make any major changes to their lifestyle or diet, or sacrifice on taste or texture.

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