“Certainly, in the prebiotic area, we have some creative ideas [in research], possibly in the short-term, but certainly in the long-term,” said Dominique Speleers, executive board member for sales and marketing at Beneo, at HiE recently.
“We know that prebiotic remains a difficult area but we continue to remain engaged. We currently have more than 150 scientific studies about this ingredient. With prebiotics we’re definitely not giving up.“
“This is starting to yield results,” he said. “We have four health claims approved by EFSA. Two that meet article 13.1, and two that meet article 13.5. Out of this we have one that is related to inulin and its role in digestive health. This one is exclusive to us.”
So there is hope under the EU's nutrition and health claims regulation (NHCR), even if it is not for an actual prebiotic effect as yet.
In this climate Beneo has focused on the technical properties of its ingredients. These include adding fibre, replacing sugar and fat, and improving the texture. Speleers added that Beneo had to determine just how these related to its range of ingredients, from chicory, to sugar beet rice.
Outside of Europe
Speleers noted regional differences in concepts like sugar reduction.
“When we observe the market, we saw that sugar was being replaced with starch-type products. An example is maltodextrins. The main problem with these products is that they have a high glycaemic index.”
“That’s why we took a different approach with both oligofructose and palatinose, which both have a low glycaemic index. This will have a big impact on worldwide challenges such as diabetes and obesity.”
He highlighted the growth of baby foods and sugar replacements in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
South America too was a focus although he acknowledged the economic volatility of this market was challenging.