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Research Underlines Popularity of Naturally Functional Fibre

April 2015 - New research results, commissioned by leading functional ingredients manufacturer, BENEO, show that consumers intrinsically link fibre with digestive health and prefer fibre that has been derived from a natural source, such as chicory root.   The representative research was carried out amongst 7,000 consumers in the UK, Germany, Spain, Poland and France.[i]
All things natural
When asked to prioritise different statements in order of importance, 70% of respondents from the five countries surveyed replied that ‘natural products are better’; with 65% of UK respondents[ii] preferring ‘all things natural’.  This preference for natural ingredients was also reflected in terms of ingredients’ names: ‘chicory root extract’ outperformed other fibre names, such as maltodextrin and polydextrose with respondents, in terms of sounding healthier, safer and recognisable. 
Limiting and adding to achieve balance
Respondents watched what they ate by limiting certain things in their diet (e.g. fat, sugar and calories) and consuming ‘extras’, such as fibre.  Almost two thirds (61%) of those surveyed tried to limit or avoid fat (UK - 57%[iii]) and 60% tried to limit or avoid sugar (UK - 56%)[iv]. More than half of those surveyed (51%) tried to get as much fibre as possible, or a certain amount in their diets. The UK respondents were among the highest consumers of fibre (59%)[v].  One of the main drivers to increased fibre intake across all countries was related to the beneficial effects of fibres on digestive health (84%), with 88% of UK respondents[vi] eating fibre to improve their bowel movements.
Fibre focus
The attraction of fibre enrichment was high for products naturally associated with fibre; with more than two thirds of respondents (67%) in Europe seeing the benefit of fibre enrichment linked to breakfast cereals and bread, whilst 61% liked the idea of fibre enrichment linked to cereal bars.  In addition, more than half of those surveyed found the idea of fibre enrichment in both pasta (54%) and yoghurt (53%) products appealing or very appealing.
Myriam Snaet, Manager Market Intelligence & Consumer Insights at BENEO: “These study results clearly underline what has been stated by Julian Mellentin in his key trends for 2015: Natural functionality is the biggest trend in the industry and has proven to be a powerful driver of many successful food innovations.  With inulin and oligofructose, BENEO offers functional ingredients from nature with nutritional, technical and health benefits that meet consumer requirements for healthy ingredients. At the same time they help to boost fibre levels in a wide range of products – naturally.”  
BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose are prebiotic fibres naturally derived from chicory roots that have a natural, mild sweetness. They help to reduce the sugar and fat content in products and enrich products with fibre at the same time, whilst maintaining texture and taste.  In January 2015 BENEO’s inulin received a positive 13.5 EFSA health claim evaluation for its beneficial effects on bowel regularity (digestive health), based on proprietary and confidential data that was submitted. Thus the digestive health benefits of BENEO’s prebiotics have been once again scientifically proven. They are among the most researched prebiotic fibre ingredients worldwide.
Myriam Snaet concludes: “With our prebiotic fibres, manufacturers can respond to growing consumer demand in terms of sugar reduction and weight management and the desire for good carbs and digestive wellness.”
[i] BENEO commissioned consumer research in five European countries (UK, Spain, Germany, France and Poland) on the perception of fibre. The survey was conducted in 2012/13 by Insites, a consumer research agency with offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, UK and the United States. 
[ii] The highest percentage of respondents to prefer ‘all things natural’ was from Poland (80%), followed by France (76%), Spain (68%), Germany (67%) and the UK (65%).  
[iii] Almost two thirds (61%) of those surveyed tried to limit or avoid fat (with France showing the strongest avoidance at 73%, followed by Germany (59%), the UK (57%), Poland (56%) and then Spain (48%)).
[iv] 60% tried to limit or avoid sugar (with France again leading the way at 68%, followed by Germany at 64%, Poland at 59%, the UK at 56% and Spain at 42%).
[v] Polish respondents consumed the most fibre (68%), followed by the British (59%), French (57%), Spanish (50%) and Germans (31%).   
[vi] Digestive health was linked to fibre intake for 89% in Spain, 88% in the UK, closely followed by Poland at 83% and France at 82% as well as Germany with 81%.   

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