Why one ‘important and often ignored’ nutrient is in the spotlight

09 February 2022, 07:41 AM
  • The fibre trend is gaining significance as food manufacturers push for healthier diets
Why one ‘important and often ignored’ nutrient is in the spotlight

As the drive for food that promotes health and wellness gains prominence in the food and drink sector, the industry’s attention has swung to trending concepts like functional drinks and superfood ingredients, but the food manufacturing industry is taking a different approach, focusing instead on a key nutrient that has been building up steam over recent years: fibre.

Naturally found in cereals, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables, fibre helps to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and can help protect against weight gain, as well as contributing to overall gut health, according to the British Nutrition Foundation.

The National Food Strategy has gone as far as setting a target to increase fibre consumption by 50% by 2032 in an effort to boost fibre intake. This is because in the UK, the British Nutrition Foundation says, most people do not eat nearly enough of it.

Fibre February

Enter Fibre February, an annual campaign launched by UK Flour Millers. While it may not have the high profile of Veganuary and Dry January, the spotlight shining on the fibre issue is certainly getting brighter. 

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) launched a campaign aiming to drive awareness of this issue: Action on Fibre. Through this, the FDF is working with food manufacturers both large and small to support them in launching new higher-fibre products. By increasing fibre in foods like bread, breakfast cereals and plant milks, it says, it will make it easier for people to incorporate fibre into their diets.

While large brands like Nestlé and Nomad Foods are joining the FDF’s initiative, there are plenty of exciting and innovative products from smaller-scale makers for fine food retailers to explore. Try targeting your breakfast offering with The Great British Porridge Co’s High Protein & Low Sugar Instant Porridge, a fibre-packed, healthy new product development; Bio&Me’s high-fibre, gluten-free granola, which is aimed at customers seeking gut healthy food options; or FREEE’s gluten-free cereals, Fruit & Fibre Flakes or Supergrain Hoops.

Snack brands are also prioritising fibre thanks to a trend for healthy snacking. From the savoury, like HIPPEAS Chickpea Puffs, which include an average of 3g of fibre, or Superfoodio’s fibre-loaded Peanut Butter Buttons – to the sweet, with Soul Fruit’s dragon fruit snacks containing fibre amongst a long list of other health credentials, while BRAVE’s Cookies & Cream flavour offers fibre-seekers an indulgent option.

The FDF’s chief scientific officer, Kate Halliwell, said fibre is an “important and often ignored nutrient”. An FDF survey with Censuswide found that only 33% of the population were aware that the recommended average intake for adults was 30g per day, and 70% were unsure as to whether they achieve this in their diet. In fact, the Government increased the dietary recommendation for fibre from 24g to 30g per day in 2015, yet there has been little change in Brits’ diets.

She continued, “Fibre plays an essential role in the diet, and currently the UK’s population, on average, does not consume enough fibre in their diets. Fibre February is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and improve the health of our nation.”

“Average fibre intakes across all sections of the population have been low for many years despite the well-documented health benefits,” added professor Judy Buttriss, director general of the British Nutrition Foundation. “This gap-bridging initiative is a welcome boost to ongoing efforts encouraging improvement – higher fibre choices need to be easy and appetising options.” The fine food industry is proving that this is indeed possible.

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