Using fibre for sugar reduction

27 May 2019

Using fibre ingredients has emerged as a promising approach to creating reduced sugar foods, not only for cutting sugar but also for adding nutritional value.

Sugar reduction is a major goal for food and beverage manufacturers and there are plenty of options beyond sweeteners, including enzymes, flavours, and even colours and shapes to influence perception of sweetness.

Using fibre for sugar reduction
Fibre can add bulk and texture to reduced sugar products

Fibre may not attract the same level of interest as protein, but consumers increasingly are choosing foods with added fibre as a way to manage their weight and improve their digestive health. Foods that are high in fibre also tend to be filling and have a lower glycaemic index, meaning they can help control blood sugar and appetite. In addition, fibre can be used to provide bulk and texture – characteristics that need particular attention in reduced sugar products.

Fibersol is one supplier with a range of fibre ingredients specifically intended for sugar reduction. It explains that although many consumers equate reduced sugar foods with reduced calories, this is not always the case. In fact, if a food manufacturer removes sugar and replaces it with fat, protein or another carbohydrate, the number of calories in a product may even increase. Fibre, on the other hand, has about half the calories of sugar and fewer calories per gram than carbohydrate or protein, which each yield 4 calories per gram, or fat, which has 9 calories per gram.

Roquette also offers a range of soluble fibre ingredients that it says can enable a 30% sugar reduction in baked goods. The company suggests that manufacturers could use its fibre ingredients to allow for both sugar reduction and cereal soluble fibre claims under EU labelling rules. In Europe, a product can be marketed as high in fibre if it contains at least six grams of fibre per 100 grams.

Tate & Lyle also highlights added fibre as a selling point for consumers. It supplies a soluble fibre ingredient from corn for reduced sugar products, which it says can add back the bulk and viscosity of nutritive sweeteners, allowing for a better texture and mouthfeel.

Beyond reduced sugar products alone, interest in fibre has increased, although most people in developed countries struggle to consume their country’s fibre recommendations, which range from 25 to 40 grams per day. According to figures from Innova Market Insights, the number of new food and beverage products with added fibre increased 11% a year from 2013 to 2017. Baked goods were the leading category for added fibre, but sports nutrition was the fastest growing category, the market researcher found, with a CAGR of 28% during the period. Drinks with added fibre were also a growing niche, including breakfast drinks and high-fibre juices.

Meanwhile, Innova found many high fibre claims went hand-in-hand with additional claims, including low in sugar, meaning that manufacturers have more than one way to position their products as healthier options.