More Americans are beginning to realize their diets don’t include enough fiber, which offers numerous nutrition and health benefits. To meet consumers’ demands for more fiber-enriched products, bakers and snack manufacturers are looking to ingredient manufacturers for products to address the challenges of using more fiber in formulations.


When asked about their dietary habits, most Americans acknowledge that there’s room from improvement. They know they should reduce their sodium, sugar and solid fat intake and eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

A growing number of people are also beginning to pay more attention to fiber—what it is and its health benefits. Many are not getting the daily recommended amount. “Most people agree that Americans are not consuming enough fiber in their diets,” says Ron Zelch, product knowledge and training manager, Caravan Ingredients, Dolton, Ill. “In fact, according to a Reuters poll in 2009, nine out of 10 American’s didn’t meet the daily recommended allowance of fiber.”

Quantitative consumer research conducted in January 2011 by Tate & Lyle, Decatur, Ill., found similar results. According to David Lewis, product manager for the company’s Promitor soluble corn fiber business, the research showed that consumers view fiber as an important part of their diet, with nine out of 10 study participants stating that it’s critical or quite important. However, only one in 10 participants claimed to get the amount of needed fiber.

Fortunately, more people are choosing to do something about this dietary shortcoming. According to Zelch, 56% of the consumers who participated in the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey said they actively try to maintain a certain level of fiber or get as much as they can. 

Perhaps that’s because consumers are discovering that fiber’s benefits go beyond digestive health. “Fiber and digestive health is pretty well-established, and people can make that connection,” says Andy Ohmes, assistant product manager for Oliggo-Fiber inulin, a natural, invisible, soluble fiber developed by Cargill, Minneapolis. “But there are other prebiotic and calcium-absorption claims that consumers and people in the industry are starting to understand better.”

Tracy Schrepfer, R&D manager, QualiTech Corp., Chaska, Minn., says that dietary fiber also plays a critical role in the promotion of health and the prevention of disease. “Health concerns, including obesity, heart health and other diet issues are some of the most talked about topics of today’s consumers,” she adds.

Busy lifestyles are prompting consumers to take a closer look at the foods they eat and opting for better-for-you products that contain fiber. “People aren’t taking the time to sit down and eat meals, so having something that’s more nutritious and on-the-go makes a lot of sense,” says Deborah Schulz, product manager, Cargill Health & Nutrition.

Fiber is also being sought out by more age groups for these reasons and others. “Before, fiber consumption was targeted at the elderly,” says Jennifer Stephens, marketing manager, Penford Food Ingredients, Centennial, Colo., “Now, fiber is understood and accepted across different consumer segments at all ages for varying benefits.”

Fiber for all

Today’s consumers are discovering that it’s not difficult to incorporate some level of fiber into their diets through supplements, fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products.

“[Fiber] started its life as a supplement and is innately found in some foods,” Stephens explains. “Now, with the emerging science wrapped around the multiple benefits of fiber—such as prebiotics, reducing calories and minimizing glucose responses, which is crucial in pre-diabetic diets—consumers are seeking fiber in varying food products including cereal, bread, snacks and pasta.”

Fiber is also appearing in numerous other foods. “Products with ‘added fiber’ claims from around the world are increasing in variety, and it’s clear that fiber no longer is something used as simply a bulking ingredient,” says Dr. Mar Nieto, senior principal scientist, TIC Gums, White Marsh, Md., which custom blends a wide array of gum fibers and thick and thin soluble fibers for customers. He adds yogurt, ice cream, sugary cereals, energy bars, juices and water to the growing list of foods and beverages touting fiber claims.

But just because a product is considered to be high in fiber, doesn’t necessarily make it so, cautions Schulz. “In the bakery space, in particular, there has been demand by consumers for whole grain because the perception is that whole grain is very high in fiber,” she explains. “While it’s true that whole grain does deliver fiber, it’s not necessarily particularly high in fiber.”

Taste and texture challenges

Many bakers and snack producers are, therefore, looking for ways to increase the fiber content in their products…and are discovering that this can be challenging in terms of texture, taste, dough formulations and other factors. Fortunately, food ingredient manufacturers are ready to offer them solutions.

 “Adding a functional dose of insoluble fiber, such as cellulosic ingredients, will significantly affect textural attributes of the finished product due to the increase in graininess and the drying effect of these fibers,” says TIC Gum’s Nieto. “In contrast, adding a functional dose of thick, soluble fiber—of up to 6 g. per serving to claim an excellent source—is problematic, especially when these fibers are used in liquid products, due to viscosity limitations. There’s also an incompatibility issue between soluble fibers and other ingredients in the food that needs to be overcome when incorporating fiber.

“For bakery and snack foods, the good news is that there is a diverse choice of soluble fibers that will meet the fortification requirement, since these products are low to intermediate moisture foods that are more forgiving.”

TIC Gums offers Ticaloid LC-SR 5 and Ticaloid LC-SR6 for use in fiber bread; Ticaloid Fold N Flex, Colloid Tortilla and Colloid 1023T gum systems for tortilla and pita bread; gum arabic (Arab FT powder) for use in cookies, granola bars or fiber bars; and Nutriloid fiber blends.

Janae Kuc, senior research and development scientist at Gum Technology Corp., Tucson, Ariz., also says that bakers and snack producers can face textural issues when trying to incorporate more fiber into their products. “In order to make a fiber claim, [a] fiber needs to be chosen that will not change [the product’s] textural attributes,” she explains. “Usually, for a fiber claim, we recommend oat fiber, inulin, gum arabic or microcrystalline cellulose.”

Sometimes fibers can create a grainy or chalky texture. “If this issue arises, it’s a good idea to look into combining fibers with gums such as carrageenan or tara gum to help smooth out the texture and provide a more palatable texture,” Kuc says. 

Even though people say they want foods with fiber, they still want products with great taste and texture. “You have to find the right balance,” says Ohmes. “With some of the traditional fibers, it’s hard to reach that fiber level and still maintain that really great taste and texture in the final product.”

 This past spring, Cargill introduced a liquid form of its Oliggo-Fiber inulin, a natural, invisible soluble fiber that the company has been offering in powder form for about 10 years. Made from chicory root, the fiber syrup can be used for a wide range of food applications and is ideal for bars and fruit preparations.

“Obviously, the challenges that accompany the addition of an ingredient to any product in terms of taste, texture and the like are present when incorporating more fiber into existing products,” Lewis acknowledges, adding that Tate & Lyle hasn’t heard much about “consistent challenges” in terms of baking and snack applications specific to Promitor, which has been available in the U.S. since 2009, and is used in baked goods, snacks, beverages, dairy products and other foods.

Dough formation and moisture issues

In addition to affecting texture and taste, fiber also influences water-absorption characteristics and other properties during dough or batter formation, says Richard De Kievit, director of sales and marketing at Viterra, Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. “The higher the amount of fiber, the more water is needed to produce a suitable dough or batter consistency,” he explains. “This will also affect baking times, as they will need to increase. In addition, the spread and rise during baking will be affected. Generally, the more oat bran added, the more dense the end product, due to its water-binding capacity.”

De Kievit says Viterra’s new High Fiber Oat Bran has enhanced nutritional qualities to help food producers create a variety of healthful products, including nutrition cereal bars and cookies, bakery products (breads and muffins) and pasta. Each 15-g. unit of the oat bran contains 3 g. of soluble fiber, as well as high levels of insoluble dietary fiber. It also has a clean label and doesn’t undergo any enzymatic, alcohol- or solvent-based fat-removal treatments that could compromise the nutritional health benefits of the end product.

According to Zelch, “fiber tends to weaken bread due to the dilution of the gluten proteins present and the extra water needed to hydrate the fiber, which is dependent on the type of fiber source (soluble versus insoluble). This means that moisture management is a challenge when incorporating additional fiber into bread products. It slows dough development and allows for more free water-affecting mold growth.”

Caravan Ingredients’ CM Enzyme helps release water from fiber during mixing, which can allow the gluten to hydrate better, says Zelch. It can also help reduce mixing times and improves overall dough strength. The product is typically used in whole-wheat, multigrain and high-fiber breads.” 

Caravan Ingredients offers a number of other enzyme-based products (Pristine Ferment 250, Pristine Dough Side 250 and Pristine 500) and food emulsifiers (Xpando Kosher, Xpando 70, Do-Crest 60 and Emplex). Pristine 1, another enzyme-based product, is formulated specifically for frozen dough.

Meanwhile, Gum Technology recently added Citrus Fiber, a clean-label product that helps bind and hold moisture over time, to some of its functional gum blends. “Because [Citrus Fiber] works synergistically with gums, this property becomes a great attribute in baked goods, especially if the baked goods are frozen, because there is less room for moisture migration and ice crystal growth,” Kuc explains. 

Flexible fibers

Bryan Scherer, director of research and development at Penford Food Ingredients, cites water-holding capacity, mouthfeel, the potential for gastric distress and cost-in-use as the principal challenges bakers and snack producers face when trying to incorporate more fiber into products, depending on how much dietary fiber they want to add to the end product.

“Highly viscous fibers or fibers with a high water-binding capacity can be difficult to formulate into baked goods without significant adjustment to the formula,” he explains. “In formulating snacks, the fiber must be carefully selected for mouthfeel, structural integrity of the finished product and potential gastric effects. And again, cost must also be considered.”

According to Scherer, Penford’s PenFibe RS, a food-grade, modified, resistant potato starch, adds almost no viscosity to food systems and has a low water-holding capacity. In addition, it has a bland flavor and neutral texture and no noticeable off flavor or gritty, sandy texture. It is well-suited for baked, fried and extruded products and snacks.

For Cheryl Borders, manager of soy foods applications, technical service edible beans, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) Research, Decatur, Ill., “the challenges faced in developing better-for-you products can vary depending upon the nutritional targets and desired finished product.”

ADM’s VegeFull cooked ground bean powders contain a mix of insoluble and soluble fiber, complex carbohydrates and resistant starch that enable bakers and snack producers to achieve their nutritional targets. “Depending upon the formulation, VegeFull bean powders can be used up to 100% for extruded snacks and up to 50% for sheeted snacks,” Borders says. “In most applications, VegeFull bean powders are easy to use and  work well with other ingredients typically used in snack production, such as cereal grains, starches and other proteins.

“In baking applications, the flour percentage can be replaced 1:1 with VegeFull bean powder. We recommend starting with 10-30% replacement and adjusting the water as necessary.”

Popular applications include extruded and sheeted snacks, extruded cereals, crackers, cookies, nutritional bars, tortillas and baked goods. Recently introduced products formulated with ADM Edible Beans ingredients include Michael Season’s Popped Black Bean Crisps, Snikiddy Eat Your Vegetables veggie chips, Beanfields Bean & Rice Chips and Boulder Canyon Garden Select Vegetable Crisps.

Meanwhile, ADM/Matsutani, LLC, a joint venture between ADM, Matsutani Chemical Industry Co. Ltd. in Japan and Matsutani America Inc., Itasca, Ill., recently added two products to its Fibersol line of dietary fiber ingredients: Fibersol-LQ corn syrup; and Fibersol-HS. The former is a soluble corn fiber intended for applications where a liquid product, as well as added sweetness and humectancy, are beneficial. It contains 75% soluble dietary fiber on a dry solids basis and is suitable for a variety of applications, including baked goods and binder systems in particulate bars. Fibersol-HS is composed of Fibersol-2 soluble corn fiber, honey and purified steviol glycosides and designed for applications where replacing liquid honey and sugar, while reducing calories and adding fiber, are beneficial. It contains 78% soluble dietary fiber on a dry basis.

“The Fibersol line of dietary fiber ingredients allows food manufacturers to fortify their products and help consumers close the gap to meet their fiber needs,” says Zachary K. Gooding, product development scientist at ADM/Matsutani, LLC.

QualiTech, known for particulates, inclusions and savory blends that add flavor, function, mouthfeel and visual appeal to products, recently introduced fiber Flavor-ette and Pell-ette inclusions to help customers deal with potential dough composition challenges.

“The inclusion acts like a delivering system that can transport fiber to give a consistent look, feel and taste,” Schrepfer explains, adding that they can be used in a variety of products, including breads, muffins, cakes, bagels, donuts, biscuits and tortilla chips.

When it comes to dietary fiber, consumers and food manufacturers are on the same page. Both realize that Americans aren’t getting the daily recommended amount of fiber and want to increase their intake. Food ingredient manufacturers are helping both groups achieve this goal by working with bakers and snack producers to develop a variety of flavorful, convenient, fiber-enriched products that meet consumers’ needs and wants.