Prebiotics push ahead

by Eric Schroeder
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The U.S. market for prebiotic ingredients may double during the next five years to more than $220 million, according to analyis from market researchers. And while that may be the case, there has been a noticeable lack of new product introductions promoting prebiotics, even as ingredient makers continue to introduce innovative options.

In today’s marketplace, prebiotics are most often found in dairy, cereal and supplemental nutrition products, said Elaine Harris, manager, Business Development Personal Care, Pharmaceutical and Nutrition for Corn Products International, Inc., Westchester, Ill.

“Prebiotics provide a variety of attractive label claims, such as fiber content, digestive, bone and immune health,” Ms. Harris said. “These added benefits are a natural fit for the aforementioned market segments as the inclusion of prebiotics makes these products healthier options and more attractive to consumers, whether they are shopping to support their own, or their family’s, well-being.”

Corn Products’ portfolio contains a broad range of fiber ingredient solutions, Ms. Harris said, including NutraFlora short-chain fructooligosaccharides prebiotic fiber and Purimune high purity galactoligoosaccharides.

Ms. Harris noted that NutraFlora increases calcium absorption in support of bone health, while Purimune supports immunity by nour-ishing and stimulating the growth of beneficial microflora in the gastrointestinal system.

Elsewhere, Belgium-based Fugeia, which was founded in 2008 through a consortium of investors that includes Tate & Lyle Ventures, Agri Investment Fund, Gemma Frisius Fund, KBC and BNP-Paribas-Fortis, in early November announced it has engaged in a collaboration with Nestle S.A., Vevey, Switzerland, to develop food products containing Brana Vita.

According to Fugeia, Brana Vita is a food ingredient product rich in arabinoxylan oligosaccharides (AXOS), soluble fibers derived from the cell walls of wheat bran. The AXOS in Brana Vita are “potent prebiotics, stimulating the growth of beneficial colon bacteria such as bifidobacteria,” the company said. Additionally, the AXOS extert strong antioxidant activity due to the presence of AXOS-bound polyphenols.

This all-natural ingredient derived from wheat bran will be a strong contender in the soluble fiber market,” said Willem Broekaert, managing director and co-founder of Fugeia. “Winning key regulatory approvals has been a significant element in building a strong platform for commercial launch. Food companies are looking for ingredients of which the consumer trusts and understands the origin. Wheat bran is widely known and trusted as an excellent fiber source with a positive impact on digestive health. Our market research shows that consumers will recognize foods made with fiber from wheat bran as premium products.”

Whereas ingredient makers have been innovative in their use of prebiotics, many food and beverage companies have been slower to expand their offerings featuring the ingredient.

Daniel Wiser, director of marketing at Attune Foods, a Needham, Mass.-based provider of cereals, bars and other grain-based snacks, said prebiotics and probiotics are an important part of nutrition, and should be consumed regularly.

“All of our Attune Probiotic Chocolate bars contain helpful prebiotics (in addition to probiotics), which work hand in hand with the probiotics to ensure their survivability in the gut — a combination known as synbiotics,” Mr. Wiser said. But he added that the company has not launched any new products featuring prebiotics or probiotics over the past year.

One area where prebiotics have made a mark recently is infant formula. In mid-November, Perrigo Co. said it received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration to market and distribute infant formula that contains 100% partially hydrolyzed whey protein. The new store brand, Comfort Care Infant Formula, will hit store shelves in 2012 and will contain prebiotics to support a baby’s natural immune system, DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development.

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