Tate & Lyle is to build what will be Europe's first polydextrose production line in a bid to meet demand for functional ingredients.
The facility, to be based at the company's Koog plant in the Netherlands, will have the capacity to manufacture a range of different soluble fibres, including polydextrose, which Tate & Lyle markets under the Sta-Lite brand.
"This is the first time that a polydextrose line will be created in Europe and it reiterates Tate & Lyle's ongoing commitment to better serving the needs of our customers," said Caroline Sanders, marketing director food & industrial ingredients Europe.
"The fact that we will be building a new production line in Europe demonstrates our determination to not only maintain and improve our current position in the fibre market, but to also intensify our focus on health and wellness solutions."
Polydextrose is a low-calorie ingredient, with versatile bulking properties to maintain taste and texture when full-calorie carbohydrates are removed from a food. In recent years it has become popular in food and drinks aimed at health-conscious consumers.
But the ingredient also has a high fibre content, offering manufacturers the opportunity to add fibre functionality to 'no added sugar' and 'reduced calorie' food and drink products.
News of the new facility came at the official opening of Tate & Lyle's Health and Wellness Innovation Centre in Villeneuve d'Ascq near Lille, France.
The €4 million facility will specialise in developing new and innovative ingredients with clinically proven health benefits in the field of weight management, digestive health, vitality and healthy ageing. The centre's laboratories and pilot plant facilities will be open for Tate & Lyle's customers, to help them with their own new product development projects.
"The Innovation Centre will drive research and development of functional ingredients and functional foods," said Sandra Einerhand, European director health & nutrition.
"There are a number of top academic institutes with renowned scientists and dynamic organisations such as the Nutrition Health Longevity Cluster in the region, which will help Tate & Lyle to leverage external knowledge to the benefit of our consumers worldwide."
Tate & Lyle, based in London, England, said its latest consumer research had revealed that two out of three European consumers thought more often about eating a healthy diet than they did two years ago.