Danisco's Litesse brand polydextrose has been approved as a fibre in Finland, Norway, Belgium and most recently France, and the company's sweeteners division is now approaching authorities in the UK and Sweden.
The approvals, based on scientific evidence to demonstrate that the ingredient acts as a fibre in the intestine, will further boost growth of the ingredient, already in strong demand for its numerous health benefits.
"We have seen it approved as a fibre all over the world during the last five years but the problem in Europe is that there are no harmonized regulations. We have had to approach each authority locally," explained Stelios Paschalidis, vice president of sales and marketing at Danisco Sweeteners.
Polydextrose, like other polyols, can be used as a sugar and fat replacer, and in low-calorie foods (it is 1 Kcal per gram). It is also low-glycaemic, giving it good future potential in foods marketed as low on the glycaemic index.
The ingredient has seen strong growth in low-carb foods in recent months, used in formulations such as the low-carb KitKat introduced by Nestle last year.
"We have seen growth of between 10-15 per cent in some markets like Europe," Paschalidis told NutraIngredients.com.
However as demand for low-carb foods ebbs, interest in lifting fibre consumption is set to grow. Intake of dietary fibre has been associated with reduced risk of heart diease, lower cholesterol levels and better digestion. It is also increasingly seen as important for blood sugar control, particularly with the rise in diabetes.
The food industry is also expected to see the focus on carbohydrates during the Atkins trend result in a long-lasting interest among consumers of the type of carbohydrates being consumed.
Danisco will also encourage customers to market the prebiotic effects of Litesse, already being done by Novartis in a Cereal brand bar on the Belgium market, and a Valio yoghurt and Hartwall beverage in Finland.
"We have all of the clinical studies on its prebiotic effects," said Paschalidis.
The soluble fibre, bought from Pfizer Food Science in 1996, has significant advantages over other prebiotic fibres.
"It is a bit more expensive than inulin but this is well justified by its better functionality, better solubility, taste, and better tolerance. Litesse can be used at 90g per day with no laxative effects compared to other polyols that are as low as 20g," explained Paschalidis.
The global polydextrose market is currently around 40,000 tons and Danisco has a significant chunk of this. Its main competitor is Tate & Lyle's Sta-Lite polydextrose.