Dietary fiber from citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and grapefruit is being added to baked goods and other foods to boost bioactive compounds and deliver health benefits and a clean label, according to Bakery and Snacks.
Researchers have found these health benefits include cancer prevention, heart health, digestive improvement, stress relief and better skin tone, Bakery and Snacks reported. In addition to those assets, naturally sourced citrus fiber also contains bioactive compounds such as polyphenols, vitamin C and flavonoids, which also help to boost its wellness credentials.
As increasing demand for citrus fiber develops for baking, preserves and dairy applications, Global Market Insights has projected the market, valued in excess of $1.2 billion in 2017, will grow by more than 6% in 2024, Bakery and Snacks said.
More companies are using citrus fiber in their products because it can improve gelling, thickening, stabilizing and water-binding capabilities, according to Bakery and Snacks. The ingredient can also substitute for eggs and oil in baked goods, Baking Business noted.
This past June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted petitions involving eight non-digestible carbohydrates to augment fiber content in foods. Citrus fiber is considered a "mixed plant cell wall" fiber because it can be sourced from foods which have gone through other processing, such as juicing.
Research shows dietary fiber can provide numerous health benefits, such as limiting blood glucose and potentially preventing Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease. However, most consumers don't get the minimum daily 28 grams recommended. Average consumption is about half that — 15 grams a day.
Companies developing citrus fiber products include Cargill, Ceamsa and Florida Products, as well as Wisconsin-based biotechnology firm Fiberstar, Inc., which is producing a branded product Citri-Fi made from orange pulp. Fiberstar offers citrus fiber products made from pulp and also made from pulp and peel, depending on requirements.
John Haen, the company's CEO and president, told Food Navigator last year that manufacturers are interested in Citri-Fi as a stabilizer and natural emulsifier in drinkable yogurts and smoothies. He added the Fiberstar product made from both pulp and peel holds promise as a partial replacement for tomato paste in pasta sauces because it boosts flavor, thickness and body at what he characterized as large cost savings."
Companies using citrus fiber in their products may be able to advertise not just the health benefits but the possible replacement of eggs and oil, the cleaner label, and the sustainability factor of productively using post-processed citrus that might otherwise be thrown away. Consumers are likely to respond to any or all of those claims since they're looking for healthier products with added natural fiber and also seeking out more transparency from brands and ingredients.
These factors are all playing into the projected rosy future for citrus fiber, which could be showing up in more applications as its assets are developed. Food makers looking to tap into the trend might also capitalize on the competitive advantages of a natural ingredient that apparently offers so many possibilities, as long as the cost and availability remain stable.