BENEO, a leading manufacturer of functional ingredients, announced the results of its latest research, which demonstrates consumer perception of fiber, its natural functionality and health benefits.
The research produced by Health Focus International quantified insights that directly link to today’s consumer focus on eating healthier foods made with natural and non-GMO ingredients. In fact, 67 percent of the 1,000 consumers interviewed found “high in natural fiber” as a very appealing fiber claim for food and beverage products. The research results show a clear preference for natural products—with as many as 47 percent of respondents actively seeking natural fibers—and 45 percent considering non-GMO products as “better.”
In terms of product designation, 62 percent of respondents prefer chicory root fiber as the most natural soluble fiber. In contrast, only 42 percent and 3 percent of consumers, respectively, perceive soluble corn fiber and polydextrose as natural fibers. Interestingly, the research results mirror actual ingredient production methods. Unlike other fibers, for example soluble corn fiber and polydextrose that are artificially or chemically made, chicory root fiber is naturally sourced and produced by a gentle hot water extraction method. Additionally, chicory root scores best—with 57 percent of the respondents not linking chicory root fiber to GMO. Chicory root fiber is non-GMO and a natural source of dietary fiber. It can also be found in artichokes and onions.
Results show that consumers are particularly concerned about the sugar content in food and drinks, with 63 percent of respondents indicating they try to avoid or limit sugar. Only artificial sweeteners are avoided even more. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that consumers look for the calorie, fat and sugar content of a product before purchasing it (69 percent, 65 percent and 62 percent, respectively). Chicory root fibers have a natural mild sweetness and only 1.5 kcal/g, making them highly suitable when replacing sugar and calories in formulations.
The research results also indicate a high level of consumer awareness of fiber being an important ingredient for a healthy and balanced diet. An overwhelming 93 percent of consumers responded that fiber is good for their overall health. Consumers are also aware that fibers contribute to a healthy gut and weight management, with 91 percent responding that fiber is beneficial for their intestinal health and 68 percent saying fiber helps them feel fuller longer. Moreover, 63 percent maintain that fiber helps them eat less during the day.
“These results clearly show that consumers are actively looking for natural functionality in their daily diets,” said Joseph O’Neill, president and general manager of BENEO Inc. “With chicory root fiber, BENEO offers functional fibers with nutritional, technical and health benefits that meet consumer requirements for natural ingredients. They not only support them in boosting their fiber levels but can also be beneficial in sugar and fat reduction.”
More than 60 percent of the respondents noted that breakfast cereals, cereal bars, bread and yogurt are most suitable to provide digestive health benefits. BENEO’s chicory root fibers inulin and oligofructose, which are among the best-researched prebiotic fibers worldwide, are non-GMO and can easily be incorporated into a wide variety of applications for natural fiber enrichment, while reducing the amount of sugar, fat and calories.