Swedish firm launches functional beta-glucan ingredient

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Beta-glucan Oat

Swedish life science firm Biovelop AB has launched an oat-based soluble fibre ingredient that it claims is ideal for use in foods unrelated to oats, such as smoothies, condiments and ready meals

Managing director Professor Mark Lawther told NutraIngredients.com that worldwide commercial interest in the ingredient had been “healthy and strong”​, and that the patented ingredient PromOat – which contains 35 per cent beta glucan (soluble fibre) – had already been successfully trialled in a range of products

These include fruit juices, smoothies, ready meals, condiments, dressings, processed meat and bakery products.

The firm claims that PromOat beats competitors by providing or contributing to consumers’ recommended 3g daily intake of beta glucan without insoluble oat fibre or oat protein content, which both spoil the aesthetics and flavour of finished products.

Formulation advantages

Biovelop is in a strong marketing position in the EU given the sole positive EFSA health claims opinion on beta glucans in December 2009 under article 13.1, which states: “Regular consumption of beta glucans contributes to maintenance of normal blood cholesterol concentrations.”

Aside from its ‘non-chemical’ production process that sets it aside from competitors, says the firm, key selling points for PromOat centre on its aforementioned technical qualities, as well the fact that it is tasteless and colourless.

Said Lawther: “PromOat has a high molecular weight for a functional beta glucan, and the absence of cereal taste, texture or colour means that we can take oats into new application areas.”

“Products produced by rival firms are fine in, say, cereal bars or bread, but they should stick to these areas.

“We are also focusing on drinks, low-fat and fine products, and another key point is that PromOat can deliver essential soluble fibres to a wider population deficient in them, ensuring people get the appropriate dosages.”

Commercial interest

Lawther said market interest in PromOat was particularly strong in two areas: “We’ve had healthy and strong interest commercial interest, mainly in the drinks sector and from firms interested in using the ingredient as a fat replacer.

“As a clean-label, chemical free fat replacer with no e-numbers that binds water, it leads to a fat content of 10 per cent or less in some products.

“Obviously this could also feed into various health benefits, but the ​[food] makers can then consider specific health claims at a later date.”

Cholesterol advantages aside, Biovelop insists that it can help brands deliver “widely publicised and researched” ​positive oat health messages, where beta glucans may help to lower blood pressure, regulate blood sugar levels due to low GI values, promote satiety and act as a prebiotic for better gut health.

Asked whether Biovelop was considering any specific applications to EFSA regarding health claims, Lawther said that Biovelop had a number of ongoing clinical trials, and expected to produce data within 12-24 months with a view to applying.

“We’re also researching applications for the product in different areas – we feel we’re ahead in some, others need more work,” ​he added.

Biovelop has invested €20m developing PromOat, and Lawther said the initial research on oats began in 2002, with other funds invested in patent protection, marketing and a specialised oat-grain processing facility in Sweden.

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