Hydrocolloid supplier TIC Gums has launched an inulin ingredient aimed at boosting the fiber content in a variety of products.
LV-110 is a highly purified grade of inulin known for its low-viscosity characteristics, which, according to TIC makes it suitable for use in a wide range of applications, from dairy products to sauces and gravies to nutrition bars. Most other gums, however, become unmanageable at high concentrations.
"Inulin has emerged as a popular ingredient in recent years because it is an effective fiber source. Beyond growing recognition of the importance of dietary fiber, the boon in low-carbohydrate products has also generated interest in inulin," said business development manager Greg Andon.
Inulin also has garnered attention in recent times for its purported benefit in aiding in the body's retention of calcium.
TIC Pretested Inulin LV-110 is cold water-soluble and is deemed GRAS (generally recognized as safe) for food use by an expert panel.
"Inulin has some functional properties, but we mainly market the ingredient because of its soluble fiber content," Andon told FoodNavigatorUSA.com. The addition of fiber to foods is becoming a growing trend in the US as Americans wake up to is health benefits. The goodness of fiber was goiven extra weight by the recently updated dietary guidelines for Americans, which recommended a minimal daily intake of 30g of fiber a day.
Andon added that inulin has some of the binding characteristics of sugar and therefore in some instances could be used as a sugar replacement.
However, his colleague Dr Mar Nieto, the director of technical services at TIC, cautioned the use of inulin as a genuine replacement for sugar, saying it had a kind of "off-taste", which could be a problem if the ingredient were to be used in big quantities as a sugar replacement in products such as jams, jellies or syrups.
Nonetheless, he is confident of its use as a fiber beacuse of its low viscosity.
"Guar gum, for example, would be very thick and food manufacturers would have to blend this ingredient," he said. Inulin means that say 3g of the product can be used, rather than 0.3g giving a substantial increase in fiber.
Inulin fibres are produced from chicory roots using high energy processes like evaporation and spray-drying. Production costs have therefore been hit by rising fuel prices, up by more than 30 per cent in the last year. Despite this, inulin producers have seen double-digit growth in recent years.