Beneo to ramp up global prebiotic chicory root fibre supply

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

Beneo's chicory root plant in Oreye, Belgium. Pic: Beneo
Beneo's chicory root plant in Oreye, Belgium. Pic: Beneo

Related tags Beneo chicory root fiber prebiotic fibre Inulin oligofructose Gut health Functional ingredients plant-based Weight management Blood sugar management

Beneo is pumping more than €30m into expanding capacity at two of its prebiotic chicory root fibre production sites, in Chile and Belgium.

The work on the sites in Pemuco, Chile, and Oreye, Belgium, will begin in 2022 and will increase capacity by more than 40% to meet rising customer demand and drive further growth within the market. Beneo operates another three production sites – in Leuven-Wijgmaal in Belgium, Obrigheim in Germany and Confienza in Italy – that employ a total workforce of over 1,000 employees. The company’s footprint stretches into more than 80 countries worldwide.

The functional ingredient specialist said the demand for the prebiotic chicory root fibre has grown exponentially, with the number of new product launches containing chicory root fibre inulin doubling in the past four years. In fact, Euromonitor data from September 2021 shows the market tipping the $11.48bn mark by 2028.

The high demand has been driven by the ingredient’s multitude of benefits.

The importance of fibre is finally gaining traction among consumers. There is strong evidence that eating fibre is associated with a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. It also helps with satiety, aiding weight management, and helps the body absorb more calcium, which is necessary for strong bones.

Beneo’s functional fibres also boost intestinal flora by stimulating growth of beneficial bifidobacterial – an important element of good digestive health. The chicory root fibres inulin and oligofructose are the only plant-based prebiotics. According to the International Scientific Association for Pro- and Prebiotics (ISAPP), they belong to the very few proven prebiotics.

“Beneo’s chicory root fibres meet key consumer needs of today and we are convinced that they will continue to play a central role in healthy nutrition in the future,”​ said Christoph Boettger, member of Beneo’s Executive Board.

The use of chicory root fibres in product development will enable manufacturers to respond to the most pressing consumer trends of today, including gut health, immunity, weight management, blood sugar management and bone health. With capacity increased at its plants in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, Beneo's investment will certain go a long way to maintain supply around the world.

“As announced previously, in summer 2022, a second refinery line in Pemuco will already increase the production capacity significantly. But we won’t stop there,” ​said Boettger.

Carbon neutrality

The investment will also be used to advance Beneo’s sustainability journey to be 100% carbon neutral by 2045, said Boettger.

“On top of this capacity increase, CO2 ​emissions are being reduced. This means that the production site in Pemuco will be carbon neutral in a few years. Additionally, the site in Oreye will have reduced the specific energy consumption per ton of product by more than 50% by 2030.”

As well as contributing to the company’s carbon neutral ambitions, the project will create the number of job opportunities. At the Pemuco plant, for example, the workforce is expected to increase by approximately 15% over the next few years.

Beneo has extensive experience in developing functional ingredients from plants that help to improve the nutritional and technical properties of a wide variety of foods. The company’s portfolio includes functional carbohydrates from sugar beet, prebiotic chicory root fibre, plant-based proteins and speciality ingredients from rice.

Through a multi-tiered chain of expertise – including the Beneo-Institute and the Beneo-Technology Center – the company is able to support customers to meet ontrend demands.

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