Sensus to increase production and capitalise on growing demand for chicory root fibre

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Sensus increases production & capitalises on chicory fibre demand

Related tags Sensus chicory root Inulin prebiotic fibre

Dutch co-op member, Sensus is expanding production of chicory root fibre (inulin) to cater to growing demand for natural prebiotics in plant-based food and supplements.

CEO, Iwan Blankers, explains the expansion reflects the longer-term vision of the Royal Cosun cooperative, which aims to collectively increase capacity output as part of the group’s Unlock 25 business strategy, announced at the end of last year.

Sensus produces natural chicory-derived inulin for health care markets but suffered a disappointing harvest and inulin yield in 2020, leading to a fall in volume sales the following year. Yields have since bounced back and the expansion will ensure sufficient supplies to meet increasing customer demand.

Blankers said: “Sensus’ dedication to expanding capacity reflects the longer-term vision and strategy from the Royal Cosun group. We remain committed to best serving our customers and growing the chicory inulin market worldwide.”

The company will also work with growers to develop tools for sustainable chicory cultivation, such as mechanisation, robotisation, and automation to complement the cooperative’s ‘key sustainability programs’​ and continue to implement protocols designed to minimise the environmental impact from production and “achieve a carbon neutral footprint”.

Focus on ‘green’

Royal Cosun agro-industrial cooperative comprises 9,000 sugar beet growers and five business groups that produce a range of natural ingredients for the food industry.

The co-op outlined its collective growth targets and key goals to 2025 under the Unlock 25 strategy with a focus on ‘green​’ climate-friendly and health-promoting products. 

Group companies will concentrate on expansion in plant proteins, dietary fibres, such as inulin, and bio-based resources through ‘autonomous​’ in-house developments and working alongside innovative, strategic partners.

In addition, the group intends to maximise the ‘value enhancement’​ of sugar beets and grow added-value potato products, especially in European and Chinese markets.

In line with this strategy, Cosun introduced a protein isolate made from fava beans at the end of 2021 while protein innovations from beet leaves and co-products are in development.

The co-op is already collaborating with the Green Protein Excellence Centre (innovation platform that aims to accelerate developments in plant-based proteins) to strengthen Cosun’s capacity to develop other plant proteins. Further growth is expected in 2022.

Prebiotic health

Chicory root is a natural prebiotic ingredient containing the dietary fibres inulin and oligofructose. Inulin is found in many fruit and vegetables, such as leeks, onions, banana, and garlic, but chicory roots are the main commercial source.

Sensus specialises in inulin production and supplies ingredients under the brand names Frutafit​ inulin (powdered products) and Frutalose​ oligofructose. Products have similar nutritional and health properties and mainly target digestive health.

Inulin and oligofructose are both recognized by the International Scientific Association of Pro- and Prebiotics (ISAPP) as prebiotics, with proven health benefits including promotion of healthy microbiome, strengthening the gut and immune system, and in weight management.

Chicory inulin has characteristics that can improve the technical properties of food. It can boost the fibre content of products, reduce fat and sugar content without compromising taste and texture of plant-based products.

Royal Cosun group companies also include Cosun Beet Company (sugar production for green gas, bioethanol and pulp), Aviko (produces fries and potato products for foodservice, retail and industry), Duynie Group (transforms co-products for food, beverage and biofuel industries), and SVZ (develops fruit and vegetable purees and juices).

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