The extension to the Belgian company's Beneo line of branded ingredients was developed in response to customer requests, marketing manager Christine Nicolay told NutraIngredients.com at the recent HIE show in Frankfurt.
Beneo inulin and oligofructose is derived from chicory root. But the new LGI version boasts just three per cent sugars and just 1.1 kcal/g, allowing food formulators to make more low-sugar and low-calorie claims on products with a 'feelgood' health factor.
Orafti says Beneo LGI is suitable for a broad range of product types, including fruit preparations, low fat yoghurts and dairy drinks (in which it is said to improve mouthfeel), ice cream (in place of both fat and sugar), and sugar-free chocolate.
Part of the reason for its versatility is that it is 15 per cent soluble at room temperature, compared to 10 per cent soluble for standard inulin - a factor that has proved a limiting factor for formulators in the past.
Beyond the low- or reduced- claims, all Beneo inulin can be used in foods with a low-glycaemic (low-g) positioning since inulin does not impact on blood glucose levels.
Low-g is seen by many as the successor to the low-carb craze of 2004. It involves ranking foods according to the affect they have on blood glucose levels, with a greater emphasis on slow-release carbs over like oats and wholegrains over refined sugars and white flours that cause glucose levels to spike.
Moreover, Nicolay said that if used in sufficient quantities, Beneo LGI can be used for products making prebiotic claims. For a prebiotic affect a daily dose of 8g of inulin or 5g of oligofructose is required. In the US, the FDA says that a quarter of the active ingredient must be in a portion for marketing claims to be permitted.
The European prebiotics market was evaluated by Frost & Sullivan in 2003 and said to be worth around €87m. Analysts expect it to grow to €179.7 million by 2010.
Not only are consumers becoming more aware of the benefits of stimulating healthy bacteria in the gut, but the science is stacking up.
Nicolay said Orafti is very much in favour of the new European health claims regulation, and in view of the science it is confident that the prebiotic benefits of inulin will be included in the initial list of well-founded claims.
Moreover, Nicolay expects that it will help weed out companies that are jumping on the prebiotic bandwagon without merit.
She explained that there are some ingredients making prebiotic claims that do not discriminate between healthy bacteria and pathogens, stimulating them all.
Orafti Group is a subsidiary of the Belgian agro-food group Raffinerie Tirlemontoise/ Tiense Suikerraffinaderij and is part of the Orafti / Palatinit Ingredients Group of Südzucker.