Natraceutical takes over high concentrate beta-glucan ingredient

By Alex McNally

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Soluble fibre, Nutrition

Spanish biotech firm Natraceutical has entered the beta-glucan
market with the acquisition of the high concentrate ingredient

The firm said yesterday it had acquired the concentrate from the Canadian company Cevena Bioproducts in a deal worth €2m. The group also acquired Cevena's patents, clinical analyses, clients and distribution contracts. The company branded the acquisition as a "further step towards the consolidation of its international business in the functional foods sector." ​The move would broaden the company's fibre offering and could also be a shot-in the arm for beta-glucan, as Natraceutical has really been pushing the use of fibre over the last few years and is likely to continue so with beta-glucan. Beta-glucan has been gathering a wealth of scientific backing supporting its role in a number of health arenas. Viscofiber is said to be the "only high-viscosity and high-concentration" oat and barley concentrate commercially available. Natraceutical said that the ingredient has 12 times as much soluble fibre than oat bran. Beta-glucan, a non-starch polysaccharide found in oats and barley, has been the subject of increasing attention with some reports showing the soluble fibre can decrease LDL-C levels. Past studies have also linked it to having an anti-diabetes benefit and to help speed up immune response. Viscofibre is available for the functional food and dietary supplement market and production will continue in Canada, and the firm hopes the ingredient will spread into Europe and other countries such as Japan and Australia. Sales are expected to reach €15m by 2012. The ingredient can be added to products including breads, drinks, nutritional bars, yogurts, ice cream, soups, pasta and breakfast cereals, a spokesperson said. José Vicente Pons Andreu, chief executive of Natraceutical, said: "The need to incorporate fibre into our diets has never been higher. "Food manufacturers are scrambling to respond to consumer demand for healthier, minimally processed food products. Viscofiber's high concentration and superior viscosity is ideal for dietary supplement manufacturers, while its great flexibility in product formulations is appropriate for functional food products." ​ He added that the ingredient had the potential to be used in the beauty and pet food sectors. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the use of a generic health claim for oat and oat products mentioning the cholesterol lowering effect of soluble fiber (beta-glucan) and the reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, the company added. Natraceutical has really been pushing the use of fibre. Last year the firm developed a new alkalization process to make its soluble cocoa fiber suitable for use in functional milk products. The soluble cocoa extract contains a high level of dietary fibre.

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