Upcycled functional fiber ingredient: Comet Bio produces Arabinoxylan extract to meet rising demand

Anni Schleicher
October 11, 2019
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In response to increasing awareness of gut health as key to overall wellness, Comet Bio has launched its Arabinoxylan Plant Fiber Extract. The product promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, with a 3g dose of the plant-based, gluten-free prebiotic dietary fiber, and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. The extract provides supplement, food, and beverage manufacturers a functional way to add prebiotic dietary fiber to their products and meet consumer demand around gut health.

“A healthy microbiome requires the right fuel to keep the beneficial gut bacteria strong and thriving. However, a majority of consumers do not get enough prebiotic fiber in their diets,” Comet Bio’s CEO Rich Troyer, tells NutritionInsight. “There is clear consumer demand for ingredients that support the gut microbiome. A recent study found 70 percent of US Americans want to increase their fiber intake, whereas 88 percent of millennials are interested in prebiotic products.”

Arabinoxylan is a naturally occurring fiber in the cell walls of many plants. Traditionally, it has been extracted from grain products like wheat bran. However, this can be quite expensive as wheat bran is a final food ingredient in and of itself. “Our R&D team found an efficient way to extract arabinoxylan from plant leaves and stalks. We think this approach significantly overcomes a traditional hurdle to making arabinoxylan more widely available,” Troyer adds.

Comet Bio produces its Arabinoxylan Plant Fiber Extract through its proprietary process. Purchased from European organic farmers, the company uses upcycled farm harvest leftovers such as leaves, stalks, and shells as feedstock. Troyer adds that by upcycling, Comet Bio closes the loop in the food system. Likewise, it also provides an economic opportunity for these farmers to supplement their income by selling materials that otherwise would go unused.

Comet Bio uses farm by-products to develop its extract in an effort to reduce food waste and loss.

“We utilize the whole crop, and by doing so, we recover the full nutritional capacity of the plant and provide manufacturers the opportunity to use ingredients that are functional, healthier, and more sustainable,” he notes.

Comet Bio also produces a sweetener branded as Sweeterra syrups. Due to the company’s proprietary upcycling process, the sweeteners are lower in calories, lower in sugar, and higher in fiber in comparison to traditional sweeteners, Troyer explains. The company also tested its functionalities in a baking lab and found there to be no trades-offs in terms of taste or performance.

This Arabinoxylan launch comes ahead of SupplySide West hosted in Las Vegas, US, October 15 to 19 this year. Troyer notes that SupplySide West is a conference Comet Bio has been planning on attending “for some time now” while developing Arabinoxylan Plant Fiber Extract.

“The two aligned on timing, and it made sense to mark SupplySide West 2019 as the official launch of our Arabinoxylan Plant Fiber Extract. At the show, we’ll be providing samples of iced tea blended with our extract. The iced tea will serve as a vehicle to showcase the functionality of the ingredient, and its ability to help boost the nutritional profile of supplements, foods and beverages,” Troyer concludes.

Developments in the digestive health space
Awareness of digestive health is moving into the mainstream, with a visible increase of fiber, prebiotics and probiotics in NPD, according to Innova Market Insights.

According to the market researcher, there is growth in both of the key digestive health pillars. Fibers and prebiotics have enjoyed CAGR of 14 percent from 2012-2017, while probiotics are also strongly trending with growth of 20 percent over this period.

The high consumer demand for fiber is already leading to a strong industry response, illustrated by new product activity. This month, GoodMills Innovation launched High-MAC wheat bran, an ultra-finely ground and stabilized novel wheat ingredient. This allows it to be metabolized optimally by intestinal bacteria, says the company, expanding its plant for future growth in the area of intestinal health.

NutritionInsight spoke to GoodMills Innovation’s Managing Director at the recent Anuga 2019, where he highlighted the vast potential the personalized nutrition space offers ingredient companies targeting gut health.