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Putting Our Health First with Chicory Root Fibres

by EzeeProjects01

Christian Philippsen, MD,  BENEO, Asia Pacific 

When it comes to our food and drink choices, consumers often take into consideration a myriad of factors, from price to health benefits, convenience to taste.

But figures from Mintel show that when it comes to defining the value of food and drink products, consumers rank health benefits and natural ingredients higher than a lower price1  – an interesting finding given the rampant cost-of-living crisis faced globally. Also, according to a new global consumer survey by One Inch Whale on behalf of BENEO, one in four consumers can be categorised as putting health first when buying food and drink products.2 This consumer group is even larger in Indonesia, with almost half of the population (45%) prioritising health— the highest share among countries surveyed around the world.3

One key area that food and drink manufacturers can address in their product development is digestive health – particularly, as consumers recognise its impact on various other health areas. Globally, a large proportion of consumers understands that digestive health influences physical wellbeing (79%) and the immune system (75%).4

Supporting Health with the Help of Prebiotics

In order to boost our overall health, we must support the good bacteria in our bodies that provide benefits to the human organism. In fact, more than half of consumers (57%) in Asia Pacific are very or extremely interested in the gut microbiome.5 To support a healthy gut, manufacturers and consumers can look towards prebiotics. According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) a prebiotic is “a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.”6  Prebiotics help the good bacteria which are already naturally present in the body to grow. As a matter of fact, 70% of consumers in Thailand that were surveyed associated prebiotics with being healthy – the highest score compared to other countries in the survey.7

There are only very few prebiotics which are scientifically and clinically proven to be classified as such. BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, belong to this exclusive group of proven prebiotics, complying with the ISAPP definition. In fact, a recently published systematic literature review with meta-analyses explored the effects of inulin-type fructans derived from chicory root, based on 50 human intervention studies. The findings revealed that chicory root fibre intake (starting at 3g/day) promotes significant growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria in the gut microbiome in all age groups and improves bowel function parameters.8 Other benefits provided by chicory root fibres relate to blood sugar management,9 immune health,10 weight management11,12 and calcium absorption for bone health.13,14

Improving Nutritional Profiles with Chicory Root Fibres

Given the myriad of health benefits, it is no surprise the future of prebiotic-enriched products with chicory root fibres looks strong. In the Asia Pacific region, the prebiotics market size is anticipated to reach USD 4.9 billion by 2028 15, with two in three consumers (68%) reporting that they are (extremely) interested in prebiotics.16  Looking at the expectations of those who already buy foods or drinks containing prebiotics, a recent global FMCG Gurus survey reveals that for three out of four, product efficacy, health claims, and science-based claims are significant purchasing determinants.17  This highlights the need for manufacturers to choose scientifically proven prebiotic ingredients such as chicory root fibres.

Even in terms of technical properties, BENEO’s Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose are proving popular with producers, as they are soluble dietary fibres that can be easily added to recipe formulations without major changes to the production process. Also, they have a mild taste and don’t add an unwanted aftertaste to the end product.

Apart from increasing the fibre content, chicory root fibres also allow to reduce fat or sugar in food formulations, thereby improving the nutritional profile. For example, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose can reduce the sugar content in cookies, while maintaining the desired taste and texture of the product. In addition, Orafti® Inulin’s long chain molecular structure offers fat-mimetic texturizing properties and can be used to replace part of the fat content in dairy products like yogurt or ice cream. At the same time, it provides a creamy mouthfeel.

With health being a top priority for many consumers, this further drives the demand for food and drinks with added health benefits. Food manufacturers can leap at the opportunity to develop tasty and nutritional foods with the help of functional ingredients such as prebiotic chicory root fibres.


Mintel: How to make your brand invaluable in a cost of living crisis, global, 2022

BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics; conducted by One Inch Whale in February 2023 in France, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Thailand, UK, US (N=9243)

BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics, 2023

BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics, 2023

HealthFocus International Trends Studies 2022 

Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G (2017) Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 14(8):491–502.https://www.nature.com/articles/nrgastro.2017.75.pdf

BENEO’s Global Consumer Survey on Prebiotics, 2023

Nagy DU, Sándor-Bajusz KA, Bódy B, Decsi T, Van Harsselaar J, Theis S & Lohner S (2022) Effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructans on abundance of Bifidobacterium and on bowel function: a systematic review with meta-analyses. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Published 14 July 2022, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.2098246

Lightowler H, Thondre S, Holz A et al. (2018) Replacement of glycaemic carbohydrates by inulin-type fructans from chicory (oligofructose, inulin) reduces the postprandial blood glucose and insulin response to foods: Report of two double-blind, randomized, controlled trials. Eur J Nutr 57(3): 1259–1268. https://rd.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs00394-017-1409-z.pdf

Vogt L, Meyer D, Pullens G et al. (2015) Immunological properties of inulin-type fructans. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 55(3): 414–436. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24915372

Cani P, Joly E, Horsmans Y, Delzenne NM (2006) Oligofructose promotes satiety in healthy human: a pilot study. Eur J Clin Nutr 60(5):567–572. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v60/n5/pdf/1602350a.pdf

McCann MT, Livingstone MBE, Wallace JMW, Gallagher AM, Weich RW (2011) Oligofructose-enriched Inulin supplementation decreases energy intake in overweight and obese men and women. Obesity Reviews, 12(S1):63–279. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00889.x/pdf

Abrams SA, Hawthorne KM, Aliu O, Hicks PD, Chen Z, Griffin IJ (2007) An inulin-type fructan enhances calcium absorption primarily via an effect on colonic absorption in humans. J Nutr 137(10):2208–2212. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/10/2208.full.pdf 

Abrams SA, Griffin IJ, Hawthorne KM, Liang L, Gunn SK, Darlington G, Ellis KJ (2005) A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralisation in young adolescents. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 82:471-476. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16087995/ 

Asia Pacific Prebiotics Market to 2028 – Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report

HealthFocus International Trends Studies 2022 (Asia Pacific)

FMCG Gurus, Prebiotics survey, Q2 2022. A total of 10,000 consumers were surveyed across 10 countries (1,000 per country), here: filtered by consumers who purchase prebiotics, n=1,260.

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