Reinventing ingredients: Lessons from Litesse

By Laura Crowley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Glycemic index, Nutrition

Changes in industry conditions and challenges, coupled with
emerging trends, can open up opportunities for manufacturers to
breathe new life into old ingredients.

Although the marketing of innovative ingredients is a costly and difficult process, there is the advantage of stirring interest in something new. Meanwhile, manufacturers of well-established ingredients have the challenge of maintaining interest. To do this, many are seizing on shifting climates in the industry to pick a timely moment for singing the praises of old products. For example, Danisco has been producing Litesse, a polydextrose sweetener with a satiety effect, for more than 25 years. However, it has chosen now - a time when the trend for healthy foods shows no signs of slowing down - to reaffirm to the industry its benefits. Furthermore, new scientific advances back up its health claims. "The product was produced in the 70s, but scientific studies into the satiating effect of such sweeteners were published a year or two ago, providing strong support for our product,"​ said business director Michael Bonds. Health and wellbeing trend ​ The World Health Organisation estimated 1.6bn adults were overweight in 2005, and at least 400m adults obese. With predictions that by 2015, approximately 2.3bn adults will be overweight, the food industry has been seizing the potential of products for weight loss and management. Many food developers have embraced the potential of creating products that will help consumers satiate their hunger, thereby helping them eat less and maintaining a healthy body weight. Some substances reputed to have satiety-inducing effects include green tea and grape seed extract. This emerging trend has led to launch of ingredients such as Lipid Nutrition's PinnoThin, which contains pinolenic acid derived from the seeds of the Korean pine nut tree (Pinus koraiensis​). It increases two hormones in the gut that sends signals to the brain, telling it you are full. Similarly, DSM has developed Fabuless, said to suppress hunger by encapsulating particles of palm oil in oats, which are then formulated in a novel emulsion. The slow digestion of the oat fraction enables Fabuless to penetrate deeply into the intestinal system and, since digestion is delayed, it sends a message of fullness to the brain. However, products such as Litesse have the advantage of being well-established in the industry as long as the manufacturers maintain interest. In Danisco's case, it has done this by emphasising Litesse's added benefit of suppressing hunger, supported by scientific studies. Litesse is a speciality carbohydrate that is sugar free, prebiotic, high in fibre and with a low glycaemic index (GI). By helping to moderate fluctuations in blood sugar levels, high fibre and low GI foods can suppress hunger longer, discouraging overeating and therefore assisting with weight management. GI as a nutrition concept rose to prominence in the wake of the low-carb dieting fad that peaked and ebbed in 2002 and 2003. GI promises a more reasoned approach to carbohydrate intake, ranking foods by how quickly they release their sugars into the bloodstream. Many European countries, most notably the UK, have embraced the low-GI idea, with GI products and labelling schemes in place alerting consumers to low- and medium-GI foods. Furthermore, Danisco emphasises that Litesse has a lower calories count than other sweeteners of is kind, with only 1 kcal per gram. Reducing costs ​The crucifying hike in commodity costs has increased opportunities for manufacturers of dairy replacements, leading many companies to renew their marketing attempts. In February, Cosucra Groupe Warcoing reassessed its marketing strategy and launched a new campaign to draw attention to the use of pea protein, an alternative for milk protein that was first released eight years ago. Caseinates, which are typically used as dairy replacers in dietetic foods like infant formula, sports products and slimming foods, currently cost around €6.50 per kg while soy protein isolates cost €3.50 to €5 per kg for the same amount of protein. Cosucra said pea protein can cost around half the price of caseinates. It is highlighted again its Pisane Pea Protein range, which can replace up to 100 per cent of animal-based proteins in some applications, though can ideally replace an average of 20 per cent of dairy proteins without impairing flavour or texture. Cosucra first released the range eight years ago, but considers the current climate ideal for renewing its marketing. The rise in dairy prices also offered new marketing opportunities for soy producers, as the ingredient has been commonly applied as a substitute for dairy. Again, further scientific studies are providing more evidence of health benefits arising from soy.

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