The products, which the company will start shipping to retailers in March 2005, are tropical orange fiber drops - low-sugar, hard candy sweets - and sugar-free chewable fiber tablets in assorted fruit flavors.
Breathe Right notes that the fiber drops each contain 2 grams of roughage "offering consumers a great tasting, easy way to get the fiber their bodies need. The drop is expected to bring new, younger, health-conscious consumers to the bulk fiber segment."
The chewable tablets, meanwhile, according to the company, will provide consumers with an additional variety within the fastest-growing segment of the bulk fiber category, chewable tablets. The orange flavor currently offered by FiberChoice is available in a regular and sugar-free version, while the new assorted fruit flavors will include green apple, grape and strawberry creme chewable tablets. This product offers 4 grams of fiber per dose and is sugar free.
The lack of fiber in the average US diet of concern to many health professionals and earlier this year the National Fiber Council was created to address this problem.
Pat Baird, one of the health care experts who sits on the NFC, explained to NutraIngredientsUSA, that it has been known for years that Americans do not consume enough fiber. But it is the proliferation of low-carb dieters in recent years that has exacerbated the need for a body such as the NFC. The council says that as consumers on a low-carb diet eat more meat and cut the amount of whole grains, fruit and vegetables they consume, the fiber deficit in the US has been exacerbated.
A recent study by the Hartman Group suggested that more than 20 million Americans are participating in some variation of the low-carb diet.
"One study by the Atkins Center for Complimentary Medicine and published in the American Journal of Medicine in 2002 showed that more than 70 per cent of those on the Atkins diet had suffered constipation as a side effect," said Baird.
Perhaps even more importantly, research has shown that whole-grain foods may protect against cardiovascular disease and may help reduce the risk of colon cancer and diabetes.
The percentage of new food and beverage products making high fiber claims in North America has been stuck at around 2.5 percent for the past four years, but that latest research revealed this figure had increased to 4.2 percent in 2004, according to the database company Productscan
While the NFC would obviously be extremely happy if this trend were to continue, Baird said that she had not seen an increase in consumer awareness of the benefits of fiber.
"In the late 70s and 80s there was lots of research about fiber, but in the late 90s this focus got blurred, with consumers concentrating on low-fat products and more recently low-carb foods," she said. "I think the pendulum is now swinging back to the middle."
As this market opens up there is obviously plenty of potential for food manufacturers and supplement makers.
Baird believed that consumers should get their fiber from a variety of sources to make sure they get a mixture of soluble and insoluble roughage. She added that particularly those on a low-carb diet should consider taking fiber supplements.
"Various health organizations recommend 25 grams - 30 grams a day of fiber a day." said Baird. "This is possible, but people want to start to slowly increase their fiber intake, and supplementation should be considered."