Fruitful fiber options

by Jeff Gelski
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Robert Jones, president, owner and co-founder of Natural Citrus Products Corp., LaBelle, Fla., said his company is preparing for a "tsunami" of orders for the company’s CitraFiber ingredient.

"We are on the verge of taking this company from obscurity into the limelight in a matter of days," he said.

Pizza crust, bread, buns and rolls are some of the potential applications for CitraFiber, just one example of how fiber sourced from fruit is appearing in grain-based foods.

Executives of grain-based foods companies may need to differentiate CitraFiber from Citri-Fi. Fiberstar, Inc., Willmar, Minn., plans to expand to meet demand for Citri-Fi, which is sourced from citrus and has been shown to reduce fat and to retain water in products.

Bananas are another potential source of fiber. Recently published research focused on how banana flour, which includes resistant starch, may improve the nutritional quality of spaghetti.

Consumers are showing interest in fiber-rich products. In the 2009 IFIC Foundation Food and Health Survey, 37% of respondents put fiber among the top three "potentially beneficial components" they want in foods and beverages, and 79% said they were trying to consume more fiber. Cogent Research, Cambridge, Mass., conducted the survey, which was filled out by 1,064 respondents, on behalf of the IFIC.

The Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., has put its faith in fiber-filled products. By the end of 2010, the company expects 80% of its U.S. ready-to-eat cereals to be good or excellent sources of fiber.

A use for citrus peel

Making pizza crust more nutritious is a primary benefit of CitraFiber, which is sourced from citrus peels. Previously, citrus peels mainly were used in cattle feed, Mr. Jones said. His company now uses a patent-pending process to remove the oils and sugars naturally from citrus peels, which makes them available for use in foods.

The resulting CitraFiber is 83% fiber (50% insoluble and 33% soluble), and it offers a high amount of pectin and good water-holding capacity. Products may attain good source or excellent source of fiber status when CitraFiber is added to them, Mr. Jones said.

His company has added CitraFiber at levels up to 5% in pizza crust.

"We can put up to 10% or 12%, but the material gets really heavy because you have to add so much water," Mr. Jones said.

Work at R&R Research Services, Inc., Manhattan, Kas., involved adding CitraFiber to white pan bread, hamburger buns and pizza crust.

In white pan bread, CitraFiber was added in dough at levels of 1.5%, 2.5% and 3.5%. It was added either dry or hydrated. The water level increased by 6%, 11% and 18% for addition levels of CitraFiber at 1.5%, 2.5% and 3.5%, respectively. Based on volume and crumb grain characteristics, CitraFiber added at 2.5% in the dry powder form was selected as the optimum choice.

The hamburger buns involved a commercial sponge-and-dough formula. CitraFiber was added dry up to 2.5% with the dough ingredients. Water absorption increased 11%. The buns were similar in appearance, height and crumb grain to hamburger buns made without CitraFiber.

In pizza crust, CitraFiber was added dry up to 2.5%. Researchers observed no difference in diameter, thickness or crumb grain between crusts made with CitraFiber and crusts made without it.

To make CitraFiber, Natural Citrus Products leases more than 12,000 square feet from A. Duda & Sons, a grower, shipper and marketer of citrus and vegetables. The production facility consists of more than $4 million of capital equipment operating in conjunction with the company’s patent-pending process technology.

Expanding in Brazil

Fiberstar, Inc. is in the process of forming a Brazilian subsidiary and is seeking to build a production plant in Brazil to complement the plant it runs in Florida, said Dale Lindquist, president and chief executive officer of the company that manufactures the Citri-Fi line of products. The production plant will be built on a 5,500-square-meter site about 250 miles northwest of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

"The addition of Brazilian production will enable us to take advantage of the counter seasonal production between the northern and southern hemispheres," Mr. Lindquist said. "We will also be able to reduce the level of inventory to sales we have been required to carry with only northern hemisphere production."

Fiberstar, a privately-owned research and development company, holds an exclusive worldwide license for patented biotechnology developed at the University of Minnesota. Citri-Fi, an ingredient made from citrus pulp, may add moistness, control moisture migration, improve yields, replace fat and reduce the cost of a variety of food products, according to Fiberstar.

The company said sales of Citri-Fi increased 27% for the seven-month period ended July 31 when compared to the same seven-month period in 2008. Sales for the 12-month period ended July 31 were 26% higher than the previous 12-month period.

Citri-Fi may reduce fat and save on costs in products, said Brock Lundberg, vice-president of technology. Its benefits have more to do with functional qualities than the addition of fiber, he said. Citri-Fi’s water-binding properties mean formulators cannot add too much of it.

For an example of its use in grain-based applications, Citri-Fi will bind water in softer cookies. It may be used in different types of fillings or pastries to thicken the product or replace gums, Mr. Lundberg said.

"We are getting a lot of growth, a lot of sales growth," he said. "We’re preparing for another few larger customers to come on."

Banana flour study

Grain-based foods companies have yet to heavily promote banana flour in products, but results of a study appearing in The Journal of Food Science revealed banana flour may add dietary fiber to spaghetti without affecting consumer preference. In the study, preference of spaghetti prepared with banana flour was similar to the preference of a control spaghetti. The pasta containing banana flour presented a slight decrease in the lightness and diameter of the control spaghetti.

The study "Pasta with Unripe Banana Flour: Physical, Texture, and Preference Study" involved researchers with the Centro de Desarollo de Productos Bioticos del I.P.N. in Yautepec. Banana flour contains compounds that cannot be digested, such as resistant starch and non-starch polysaccharides that are dietary fiber.

The lightness of the spaghetti decreased significantly as the concentration of banana flour increased up to 30%. Diameter of the spaghetti decreased in samples with 30% and 45% banana flour. The spaghetti with 15% banana flour showed a 15% water absorption increase when compared to the control spaghetti.

Fiber sources

Sources of fiber are numerous. Here are a few:


Archer Daniels Midland Co., Decatur, Ill., offers its VegeFull line of ingredients made from black, red, navy and pinto beans. The ingredients include either 8 or 9 grams of fiber per serving. They also add protein and provide up to a full serving of vegetables in such applications as baked foods, snacks, dips, salads and dry soup mixes.


Inulin, which may be extracted from chicory root, functions like a dietary fiber. Sensus America Inc., Lawrenceville, N.J., offers Frutafit inulin, which may improve the rheological and textural properties of food and also act as a fat or sugar substitute, according to Sensus. Beneo-Orafti, Tienen, Belgium, earlier this year announced its Orafti brand of inulin and oligofructose ingredients are found in more than 350 products in more than 30 countries.


Research verifying the health benefits of Hi-maize resistant starch, made from corn and offered by National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J., continues to grow. In a recent study at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom, overweight people consumed 40 grams of Hi-maize resistant starch per day and increased their hepatic insulin sensitivity by 54%, their peripheral (muscle) insulin sensitivity by 24%, and their glucose uptake into forearm muscle by 68%. London-based Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., also offers fiber from corn in the ingredients Promitor soluble corn fiber and Promitor resistant starch.


SunOpta Ingredients Group, Chelmsford, Mass., offers the Canadian Harvest brand of oat fibers, which have been shown to not only increase fiber content but also to reduce calorie content, enhance texture, improve moisture retention and extend shelf life. SunOpta recently added to its Canadian Harvest line by launching OatFiber211, a fiber for whole grain products; OatFiber 240, a fiber for lighter-colored baked foods; OatFiber 320, used to add fiber to crunchy crackers; and OatFiber 680, which has been shown to reduce breaks in crunchy snack applications.


MGP Ingredients, Inc., Atchison, Kas., offers Fibersym RW, a resistant wheat starch that delivers 70% total dietary fiber. It has a low water-holding capacity that allows for enhanced crispness.

Differences between GOS and FOS

Just when grain-based foods manufacturers were becoming more knowledgeable about FOS, along comes GOS. Although different, FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides) both offer ways to add soluble fiber qualities to products.

Friesland Foods Domo USA, Chicago, offers Vivinal GOS, which features galacto-oligosaccharides. They function as fiber and provide beneficial prebiotic activity in the gut. GOS most commonly is derived from dairy or lactose through an enzymatic reaction, said Sarah Staley, vice-president of business development. Since they are heat and acid stable, Vivinal GOS ingredients may work in many applications.

GTC Nutrition, Golden, Colo., offers a GOS ingredient in Purimune and an FOS ingredient in NutraFlora prebiotic fiber. The NutraFlora ingredient is derived from beet or cane sugar using a patented process and a natural fermentation method, according to GTC Nutrition, a business unit of Corn Products International, Inc. NutraFlora is heat stable and may be used in a wide pH range, according to GTC Nutrition.

GTC Nutrition also made two presentations on GOS at the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food exposition in June in Anaheim, Calif. One presentation focused on how GOS shows promise as the next generation prebiotic because it promotes digestive comfort. The other presentation focused on how GOS may improve the mouthfeel and texture of products while also acting as a partial sugar replacer.

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