Bulking up at all ages

by Allison Sebolt
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With fiber being promoted as good for digestive health, lowering cholesterol and helping with weight management, it’s no wonder consumers have a well-established interest in products that promote high fiber content. Given the success of the Fiber One line from General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis, it is also apparent consumers are interested in high-fiber foods in many different forms.

The Fiber One line now includes cereal in five flavors as well as bars, yogurt, muffin and pancake mixes, toaster pastries, bread products, ready-to-eat muffins, cottage cheese, and milkshakes. The yogurt contains 20% of the daily value of fiber and comes in strawberry, peach, vanilla and key lime pie flavors. The milkshakes are available in chocolate and French vanilla varieties with 30% and 27% of the daily value of fiber, respectively.

The bread products include bread, bagels, English muffins, and hot dog and hamburger buns. Each slice of Fiber One 100% whole wheat bread has 7 grams of fiber per slice. There is also multigrain bread and cinnamon raisin bread.

"Eighty per cent of adult consumers are what we call ‘fiber seekers’ — expressing interest in getting more fiber in their diets," said Joe Driscoll, marketing manager for Fiber One.

Mr. Driscoll said the Fiber One franchise has experienced dollar sales growth of 65% during the past year.

Fiber One Honey Clusters has been one of the fastest-growing cereals in the category, and Fiber One bars exceeded expectations with the oats and chocolate variety being the most popular among consumers.

Mr. Driscoll said General Mills and the Fiber One line will continue to look for new opportunities for innovation, and there is a pipeline of new ideas they plan to bring to the market in coming years.

"Consumer response to our products has been extremely positive," Mr. Driscoll said. "We know the health benefits gained from a diet that includes fiber-containing foods and that most people still fall short of their daily requirements, so we will continue to invest in Fiber One to help Americans meet this need."

When promoting fiber, many companies are stressing that most consumers do not get nearly the recommended daily value of the nutrient. In fact, Mr. Driscoll said 9 out of 10 Americans don’t get the recommended daily value of fiber.

When it comes to developing products with added fiber, Tate & Lyle P.L.C., London, said manufacturers have to consider digestive tolerance when increasing fiber in products such as bars. Joni Simms, associate director of technical services for Tate & Lyle, said many fibers on the market have been slow to promote adverse side effects.

According to the Global New Products Database from Mintel International, Chicago, Kashi’s Go Lean Roll! Chocolate Peanut Protein & Fiber Bar is designed for a glycemic response with slow release carbohydrates to balance blood sugar and fiber to help promote feeling satisfied. Kashi as a company markets the fiber content on many of its products. In fact, the company said it has 17 cereals on the market that are either an excellent or good source of fiber. One of its products with the most fiber — Good Friends Original cereal — contains 46% of the recommended daily value of fiber. The original variety of the GOLEAN cereal has 40% of the recommended daily value of fiber.

Kashi said that by using whole grains in its foods, it inherently offers a naturally occurring fiber source. Because fiber is such a beneficial nutrient, the company said it goes a step further in many of its products and adds more fiber to increase the level of the nutrient and provide specific health benefits.

In terms of other recently introduced products with fiber, Mintel noted Quaker Weight Control Instant Oatmeal variety packs. With 6 grams of fiber per serving, the oatmeal is marketed to help with weight management plans and to satisfy hunger. Another new fiber-containing product is Cascadian Farm Organic Fiber Right Honey Oats cereal.

Gnu Foods, New York, has introduced a line of Flavor & Fiber bars with 12 grams of fiber promoted to help with regularity and heart health. This amount of fiber is nearly equal to 50% of the recommended daily value. Gnu even advertises its product as being the fiber equivalent of four 8-oz glasses of Metamucil.

The benefits of fiber are being promoted to people of all ages and not just older adults. For example, Gnu Foods promotes its bars as being good for children to help relieve constipation. In fact, the bars were developed after the founder and chief executive officer of the company searched for an all-natural solution for a toddler who was constipated. The child didn’t like fruits and vegetables, and there wasn’t much else on the market for other all-natural solutions.

Mr. Driscoll said a perception of poor flavor is the No. 1 barrier to increased fiber consumption, so the Fiber One line has been especially focused on the taste of its products.

According to Mintel, there were 77 new food products introduced with an "added fiber" claim, down from 97 in 2007 and 121 in 2006. During the January to July period of 2009, there were 28 products introduced with an added fiber claim. The two categories with the most new fiber product introductions in recent years are dairy and snacks. During recent years the number of breakfast cereals and bakery products introduced that promote fiber content has decreased while the number of dairy products has increased, Mintel said.

In addition, the number of products claiming to be whole grain, which leads to natural fiber, was at 797 in 2008, up from 662 in 2007. In the January to July period of 2009, there were 276 products with whole grain claims introduced, Mintel said.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Food Business News, August 18, 2009, starting on Page 48. Click here to search that archive.

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