Routin, the second largest French syrup producer after Teisseire, launched a sugar-free fruit syrup using Roquette's Nutriose FB06 product earlier this year.
Both firms believe that the launch sets new standards in taste for sugar-free drinks of this type - something that has never been easy.
"The main challenges encountered when creating a sugar-free syrup like Fruiss is bringing body and mouthfeel to the syrup," she told FoodNavigator.
"The sugar-free syrup needs this particular texture and mouthfeel, and it needs some dry substance behind it."
Briois said that in the case of Fruiss, this is obtained thanks to the viscosity and taste neutrality that Nutriose brings. The soluble fibre ingredient compensates for the lack of body and mouthfeel traditionally associated with sugar-free drinks, and also beings some added health benefits.
"Nutriose is a great solution for sugar free, light or 'healthy' drinks," said Briois.
"Moreover, it adds fibre, has an extended energy release, a low glycaemic response and outstanding digestive tolerance. Being a soluble fibre, it easily enriches drinks, and this fibre content lasts until the end of the shelf life.
"This is not the case for some other soluble fibres."
The firm also claims that the product, which is made from wheat or maize, has technical benefits. It is stable, has a good flowability and tolerates heat treatment and pasteurisation.
The company also says that the product can be used in all types of beverage solutions. Sectors associated with health and fitness could benefit most.
There is also impressive room for growth. The light drinks sector represents around 20 per cent of the soft drinks market in volume in France, according to Roquette.
What's more, the mature French market for carbonates, bottled water, and fruit juice and juice drinks, which totalled 13.56 billion litres and € 8.69 billion in 2005, was up by 3 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively, on the previous year, according to Mintel.
A move away from alcohol has assisted the market, which has also been characterised by broad trends towards ever more 'natural and 'healthy' products.
France-based Roquette is clearly aware of such trends, and has been concentrating on developing new ingredients such as Nutriose to help food and beverage makers develop healthier products.Sales of food and beverage categories considered by consumers as being unhealthy are, in general, falling, and there is growing regulatory pressure on the industry to provide healthier food.
Routin's Fruiss product was launched in April and is available in French supermarkets.