Added fibre gains mainstream appeal

8 Jan 2019

Once associated mainly with older consumers looking to stay regular, added fibre has emerged as a fast-growing global trend among consumers of all ages, including in sports nutrition and beverages.

Added fibre gains mainstream appeal

The number of new food and beverage products with added fibre increased 11% a year from 2013 to 2017, according to Innova Market Insights. While fibre inclusion remained most prevalent in baked goods, the market researcher found that sports nutrition was the fastest growing category, with a CAGR of 28% during the period. Fibre-packed beverages were also a growing niche, from breakfast drinks to high-fibre juices – and Coca-Cola has even launched a version of Coke with added fibre in China.

Recommendations for dietary fibre vary globally and depend on calorie intake, but the average is about 30 grams per day. Most people in developed countries do not consume enough. But while consumers have long been aware of the importance of dietary fibre for staying regular, different types of fibre may have different health benefits, and awareness of these benefits is growing. Insoluble fibre is important for increasing stool bulk, for example, while soluble fibre has been shown to reduce blood serum cholesterol levels and limit spikes in blood sugar. There is also some evidence that fibre could protect against bowel cancer and diseases associated with obesity, such as type 2 diabetes.

This has led to increased interest in fibre ingredients across age groups. Although dietitians have tended to encourage boosting dietary fibre with whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains, food and beverage companies have been keen to capitalise on the trend by adding fibre to a wide range of products, from cereals to ice cream. For food manufacturers in Europe, a product can be marketed as high in fibre if it contains at least six grams of fibre per 100 grams.

Among fibre ingredients, rice fibre leads the way, says Innova. Rice benefits from being allergen-free and easily recognised on ingredient lists, and the market for ingredients from rice, such as fibre and flour, also has been boosted by the popularity of gluten-free diets. Gluten-free products are often lower in fibre, a problem that rice fibre is well-placed to address.

High fibre claims in the beverage sector have also seen strong growth, particularly as suppliers have come up with a range of options to boost soluble fibre content. Tate & Lyle, for example, offers soluble fibres from corn and oats, and Archer Daniels Midland also offers a corn-based soluble fibre, intended for health-focused drinks like juices and meal-replacement beverages.

Innova found many high fibre claims were accompanied by an additional claim, such as low in sugar, high in protein or low in fat, giving manufacturers an additional opportunity to position their product as a better-for-you option.