The world’s number one inulin supplier, Belgium-based Beneo-Orafti, has jacked the price of its inulin and oligofructose offerings for the second time in less than 12 months.
The Sudzucker Group-owned chicory specialist said spiralling energy costs had been the primary reason for the 25 per cent jump across its range that comes on top of a 6-8 per cent price rise which took effect on October 1, 2007.
The new pricing regime is effective from November 1.
The company acknowledged the latest hike would place extra pressure on its “partners and customers”, but said it had avoided the move as long as was economically feasible.
“Beneo-Orafti has strived to avoid this price increase and has made many improvements within the business to make sure it is running as efficiently as possible,” said Beneo-Orafti managing director, Dominique Speleers.
He added: “However, due to the continued and unprecedented increases we have experienced in energy, raw materials and processing costs, a price increase is inevitable and necessary to cover costs and maintain profitability.”
“We understand this price increase means extra pressure for our partners and customers. We do know however, that the consumer recognises the value and benefits of healthy nutritious foods and is willing and prepared to pay a price premium for such value-added products.”
Beneo-Orafti is one of the world’s big three inulin suppliers – the others being fellow Belgian supplier Cosucra and Sensus, which is based in the Netherlands.
While the price hike is significant, the market for prebiotic ingredients is buoyant as gut health and immunity health benefits attract the interest of more food makers.
Market analyst AC Nielsen puts the European digestive health market at about €2.2bn – while probiotic products dominate, prebiotic-infused products such as cereals and yoghurts are performing well although no segment figures were available at the time of publishing.
AC Nielsen supermarket scans reveal 68 per cent of 'approved' European functional foods are in the digestive health area.
“We continue to advance the science of prebiotic nutrition allowing our customers to stay at the leading edge of the food industry,” said Speleers. “In addition, we provide consumer insight, application know-how and regulatory expertise.”
The company noted it had bolstered its supply channels via the acquisition of a manufacturing facility to go with the one it has at its Belgian HQ.
Beneo has submitted health claim petitions to the European Commission for consideration under the nutrition and health claims regulation. These include:
· ‘promotes a balanced microflora’
· 'promotes digestive health’
· 'increases calcium absorption leading to increased bone strength'
· 'stimulates your body's natural defenses'.