Supply Spotlight: Matsutani

Matsutani's research and development facility in Hyogo, Japan.In a world where the incidence of diabetes and obesity are becoming epidemic, companies offering solutions are well positioned. One such company is Matsutani, makers of Fibersol-2, a digestion-resistant dietary fibre that has been shown, through a decade of animal and human studies, to be both highly bioavailable, and effective in reducing serum blood-glucose and insulin levels.

Matsutani Chemical Industries was founded in Itami City, Japan, where it is the leading producer of speciality food starches and maltodextrins. In 1999, the company established Matsutani America, and later in conjunction with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) started production of Fibersol-2 to better serve the U.S. market.

Presently, the largest worldwide market for Fibersol-2 is in beverages, says Matsutani America's vice president of sales and marketing, Yutaka Miyamoto. "This is due to Fibersol-2's unique functionality in beverages, the ease of adding relatively high levels of Fibersol-2 and the growing beverage business. Other large opportunities include dietary supplements, cereals, baked goods and dairy foods. The growing US population of those with diabetes and obesity, as well as ageing baby boomers, means the market for fibre continues to grow," he says.

Yutaka Miyamota, Matsutani America's vice president of sales and marketingMiyamoto is enthusiastic about the product, "because of its excellent physical properties — no inherent or added flavour, high solubility, clear and transparent solution, high stability in acid, very low viscosity. It improves body/texture, it is water binding and has very low hygroscopicity. And it has a high digestive tolerance."

Water-soluble fibre can effectively promote the growth of a variety of beneficial bacteria (naturally occurring or ingested as probiotics) in the colon, indirectly reducing the presence of undesirable bacterial species. Additionally, secondary and tertiary nutritional benefits from fermentation byproducts such as short-chain fatty acids can add to maintaining good intestinal and overall health.

"The average American consumes only half (13g) of the recommended daily allowance for dietary fibre (25g in a 2,000-calorie diet). There is pressure from all fronts for this recommendation to be increased. Thus, the 'gap' in dietary fibre recommended daily consumption vs actual intake is increasing," Miyamoto says.

Educating the American consumer to the health benefits of fibre, especially of low-fermentation soluble fibre, is important, Miyamoto says. Fibersol-2 significantly reduces levels of serum blood glucose and insulin levels. Additionally, it significantly reduceslevels of blood triglycerides. Such benefits potentially impact the incidence of diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease.

So far, the extent of the company's education efforts are a fee-free co-branding programme that allows its customers "to make consumer-friendly package [using the Fibersol-2 logo] and advertising declarations. Matsutani has a license-free programme to allow customers to use the trademark," Miyamoto says. Also, Fibersol is the only trademarked dietary-fibre ingredient with the term 'fibre' included.

As for the future, the company is not resting on its laurels, Miyamoto says. "Matsutani's business is dietary fibre. Matsutani's R&D teams in Japan and in the US continually seek both improvement in existing products and development of new novel dietary-fibre ingredients. Work focuses on the full prebiotic effects of Fibersol-2 including both primary (growth of beneficial microflora in the colon; intestinal health) and secondary (blood chemistries, absorption of micronutrients, hormonal balances and metabolic control, etc) effects. Further, the proper dietary balance of soluble vs insoluble dietary fibre is relatively unknown. Creating ingredients that balance the benefits of both will be a challenge in the future.

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