Best of all, it does all this without sacrificing taste or mouthfeel, which means consumers will come back for more, said Steve Jakeway, VP of business development at BioNeutra North America Inc.
“Our product allows you to have a similar profile as sugar … with half the calories” and without a bitter aftertaste like some other high-intensity sweeteners, Jakeway explained at Natural Products Expo West. “So, you get the sugar profile, you get the taste you would expect from Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies with something that is not as calorie-rich.”
Balancing sugar reduction and taste is essential as more consumers give lip service to avoiding sugar, but continue to purchase it, most likely because they are unwilling to give up the flavor. (Read more HERE.)
Jakeway compared the sweetness of VitaFiber to glucose or sucrose and not a high-intensity sweetener like Stevia. However, it still helps mask other undesirable flavors in better-for-you foods and can be used in place of sugar or other ingredients to help clean up the product label.
In addition, the product comes as syrup or powder for easy formulation, but manufacturers do not need to list it as syrup, which can be off-putting to some consumers, Jakeway said.
All the benefits of fiber without the side effects
The easy to tolerate ingredient can help foods and beverages provide the benefits of fiber that consumers want and need without the side effects caused by other fibers, Jakeway said.
“We have done a clinical study where we have up to 45 grams a day of the product without any issues,” Jakeway said. He explained the ingredient is a high purity isomalto-oligosaccharide fiber that is processed in the body by a different fermentation pathway than other fibers, such as inulin and FOS fibers, and thus causes less bloating and discomfort.
Manufacturers, therefore, can add the ingredient with confidence to foods or drinks to improve satiety while keeping calories low, he said. It can also help meal replacement products feel more substantial to consumers and depending on the amount used can enable firms to make cholesterol and blood sugar maintenance claims.
The fact the ingredient is a prebiotic also helps with digestion and gut health claims that can attract the interest of consumers looking for functional foods.
Low pH, high versatility
The ingredient is versatile for a wide variety of foods and beverages and can even be added to products where other fibers are unsuitable.
Jakeway explained that VitaFiber is stable in products with pH levels as low as 2, while other fivers become unstable at levels below 4.
This opens the door for adding the fiber to particular fruit juices and carbonated beverages that are too acidic for other fibers, he said.
An emerging use for the ingredient is in baked goods, which provides consumers an on-the-go alternative to nutrition bars as meal replacements, Jakeway said, noting it can be used in biscuits, cookies and muffins.
The ingredient also works well in confectionary products, such as no- or low-sugar chocolate coatings or standalone products, gummies, protein bars, dry mixed beverages and even supplements and over-the-counter drugs, Jakeway said.
Direct to consumer sales
The non-GMO ingredient is so popular with consumers that the firm launched it in March on Amazon for direct sales, Jakeway said.
Traditionally a business to business supplier, BioNeutra is exploring direct to consumer sales after several tried the ingredient in clients’ finished products and requested it, he explained.
“Over the last year we have been shown that consumers want the product, and we are now at the stage where we have enough volume that we can showcase it” to consumers, he said, noting the company has grown 100% year over year for the last five years.
He added the company expects continued success as consumers continue to demand healthier, functional foods and beverages.