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Danisco invests in polydextrose capacity to meet fiber demand

By Jess Halliday , 03-Mar-2011

Danisco is planning a major increase in capacity of Litesse polydextrose in response to demand for fiber-rich foods, and following a new definition of fiber that confirms the specialty sweetener’s classification.

The Danish ingredients firm, which is currently subject to a US$6.3bn acquisition bid by DuPont, has been marketing its Litesse polydextrose for some 30 years, mainly as a sweetener. It has been repositioned on a health platform in recent years, however, with scientific studies to support effects such as satiety and low glycemic index.

It is attracting more attention than ever as a functional fiber, as more attention is paid to ways of including more fiber in the diet. In both Europe and the US, surveys have shown that consumers struggle to meet daily recommended fiber intake though natural dietary sources alone. This represents an opportunity for food manufacturers to design enriched products to help bridge the gap.

Danisco spokesperson Sarah-Jane Jumppanen told FoodNavigator.com that the expansion will take place at the existing polydextrose facility in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA.

“Initially the expansion will offer a circa. 30% increase in capacity, but will also offer scope for further increases in the future,” she said. The new capacity is expected to be operational within the next 12 months.

The company is not revealing the exact level of the investment, but Jumppanen said it is “multi-million USD”.

Definition = opportunity

In the annual report Danisco said that the absence of a globally accepted definition of dietary fiber has hampered industry’s ability to provide fiber-enriched products. It “worked with a variety of special interest groups in an effort to resolve this situation”, and a physiology-based definition of dietary fiber has been incorporated into European legislation, with a similar definition adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Committee.

“This opens up new opportunities for Danisco’s Litesse speciality carbohydrate,

which offers the physiological benefits of dietary fiber but, until these recent developments, its acceptance as a fiber has been ambiguous.”

Codex defines fiber as one of three categories of carbohydrate polymers: Naturally occurring edible carbohydrate polymers; carbohydrate polymers obtained from food raw material by physical, enzymatic or chemical means; and synthetic carbohydrate polymers.

In its full year 2009/10 report Danisco said the “business momentum remained positive for Litesse”. It contributed to DKK1,420m revenues for its sweetener business over the year.

Jumppanen pointed to research from Euromonitor International and Giract that indicates annual growth rates of up to 10% over the five years to 2010. “Litesse has enjoyed growth consistent with these levels during the same period,” she said

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