The future of fiber is bright

Mondelēz International invests in fiber startup Uplift Foods

Fiber is becoming a prominent ingredient of new start-ups stepping onto the functional scene as consumers. A major driver in the increase of innovative fiber development can be attributed to the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) ruling in June 2018 which allowed eight specific fibers to be classified as “dietary fibers” on the Nutritional Facts Label. Additionally, scientific research is delivering a deeper understanding of the health benefits of fiber which goes beyond digestive health to weight management, heart health, brain health and increased energy and alertness.

Three novel start-ups are taking the functional food and nutrition scene by storm with products centered on the dietary fiber.

1. ReGrained SuperGrain

Two college friends, Daniel Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz, started to brew beer at home and were eager to utilize the mountains of excess grain left over after the brewing process. They discovered the high nutritional content of this wasted grain could be harvested and used to create a massive potential food source. During the fermentation process sugars are converted into alcohol to create their beer, leaving spent grain that’s high in both protein and fiber, as well as containing an abundance of micronutrients.

ReGrained converts this nutrient intense spent grain into SuperGrain+ by using the company’s patent-pending technology. This SuperGrain+ flour is then used as a functional ingredient in their ReGrained granola products. ReGrained plan to expand their core granola product line and begin using SuperGrain+ flour in other applications.

ReGrained SuperGrain+ is most definitely an on trend product as more and more consumers become mindful about the foods they are eating. Their products use upcycled, sustainable ingredients as well as being a good source of prebiotic fiber and protein.

In September 2018, shortly after their product launched, ReGrained received $2.5 million Series Seed financing from the privately held global product development company Griffith Foods, with additional participation form Barilla Groups BLU1877, Telluric Foods and many other strategic and crowd sourced investors. This funding will allow the company to scale their proprietary processing technology and commercialize their ingredient business by opening the world’s first “ReGrainery”.

2. Uplift

Australian Brand Uplift Foods provide a range of powder and supplement products for gut health and cognitive function, using the emerging science of psychobiotics to formulate their products. Uplift Foods is the first functional food brand to focus exclusively on the mood regulation through prebiotic gut healthy foods. The two-way communication system referred to as the gut-brain axis is recently receiving a lot of attention around new product development as research finds that having a happy gut leads to a happy brain.

The brand’s flagship product, the Daily Uplifter, is formulated with a combination of prebiotic and probiotic ingredients that improve gut health and provide mood supportive benefits. The product is a vanilla flavored powder that can be added to a variety of foods and beverages including bars, drinks, processed foods and baked goods. The brands product portfolio is expected to expand with two new functional snack products to be launched end of Q2 2019.

Daily Uplifter is packed full of nutrient dense ingredients that are gut nourishing, plant focused and packed full with natural whole-food vitamins and minerals. Some ingredient highlights include;

  • Organic Jerusalem Artichoke – dense source of naturally occurring inulin, a soluble prebiotic fiber known to boost good bifidobacterium
  • Organic Green Banana Flour – rich source of prebiotic resistant starch which selectively fuels the good bacteria in your body
  • Xylooligosaccharide – XOS prebiotic has been shown in clinical trials to boost the good bifidobacterium with intakes as low as 1g per day

Soon after Daily Uplifters launched in Australia the product got picked up by one of the top accelerators in New York, Food-X. This allowed the brand set up a production unit in the US and accelerate their launch across the country.
Most recently in March 2019, the American multinational food and beverage company Mondelez International Inc. took a minority investment sum which has not been disclosed at this time. This is the first investment made as part of SnackFeatures, the company’s new innovation hub. Through this partnership, Mondelez hopes to disrupt the functional food scene by utilizing Uplifts gut-friendly product and launching it as a more snackable ready-to-eat product.

3. Carbiotix

The Swedish-based start-up, Carbiotix, provides a personalized prebiotic subscription service called PersonalGut which works to improve users’ overall gut health by training gut bacteria to consume more prebiotic fiber.

Consumer interest in a healthy gut is at an all-time high as recent advances have begun to identify that the microbiome affects many conditions beyond the digestive system. As mentioned above studies have linked the gut – to mood and brain health as well as weight management and cardiovascular health.

The PersonalGut subscription service is made up of three parts: a personalized soluble fiber in sachet form, a multi-sample gut micro-biome kit, and prepaid return mailing envelopes. The prebiotic fiber sachet can be mixed with any beverage, the user then takes a monthly sample of their gut micro-biome and returns it to the company for examination. The monthly micro-biome sample is then analyzed by Carbiotix to determine users’ Fiber Loving Bacteria (FLB) index, a metric developed by the company. The prebiotic fiber supplement is then updated monthly based on the client’s results. The end goal of this subscription is to achieve a gut flora that is much more diverse and stable as well as allowing the client to eat foods that may have caused discomfort before.

In August 2018, Carbiotix secured its second pre-seed financing round of €450,000 bringing the total capital raised to €700,000 to date. This funding will allow the bio-technology company to grow their platform and ramp up activities in their therapeutic developments.

The overwhelming evidence of dietary fibers expanding health benefits is seeing a renewed interest in this ingredient. While the majority of consumers intake fiber for its gut friendly benefits, we expect to see more applications utilizing the ingredients several other health factors in the future. Make sure to keep a close eye on the disruptive developments to come in this space.