With the global prebiotics market growing exponentially, smart processing firms stand to profit by taking advantage of the surge.
According to a market report by intelligence outfit Global Industry Analysts (GIA), the demand for prebiotics (nondigestible food ingredients that promote growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines) is growing by leaps and bounds. Global sales were approximately $1 billion USD in 2011; GIA predicts that figure will quintuple by 2018.
One firm offering prebiotic ingredients is Life Bridge International. The company recently launched LLife-Oligo XOS, a “super prebiotic” derived from corncobs through a proprietary enzymatic process.
Life Bridge representative Elizabeth Vazquez told FoodProductionDaily.com that the prebiotic acts as an effective soluble dietary fiber.
“There is a pressing demand for fiber in the human diet, particularly in the US,” she said.
Vazquez added that LLife-Oligo XOS is stable over a wide pH and temperature range. As such, it can be used in a broad range of products with varying levels of acidity and processing temperatures.
One concern about prebiotic is how well it boosts bacteria. Vasquez reports that LLife-Oligo XOS in its 70% powder-capsule form, the prebiotic yielded a 20% increase in beneficial bacteria over four weeks.
Prebiotics currently are used in a broad range of products. Vazquez said Life Bridge products are used in beverages, instant drink mixes, dressings, and dairy goods (such as yogurt).
While prebiotics also are enjoying success on the shelves, a disadvantage is the shelf life (living organisms don’t live forever). Vasquez said because prebiotics are not “alive,” they give processing firms an edge.
“Though probiotics are very helpful they may lose their ‘power’ on the shelf,” she said. “Since XOS is not living (it is food for the beneficial bacteria), it could address this shelf life issue.”
Going forward, Life Bridge is studying additional potential applications and benefits for prebiotics. For example, the company is looking into the materials’ role in weight management, connections between harmful bacteria and other ailments (such as autism and schizophrenia) and more.