In the same week that the European Commission tables proposals to overhaul the EU sugar regime, Belgian company Cosucra Groupe Warcoing announces that its days of sugar beet processing are over, opting to focus business entirely on added value ingredients for health foods.
The family company, which makes ingredients from chicory, yellow pea and sugar beet, is to expand its inulin and oligofructose activities by reconverting a sugar refinery in the north of France (St Germainmont) to a modern chicory extraction plant.
And it will no longer be active in traditional sugar beet processing, it said this week.
The Warcoing Group, that claims to be the first company in the world to produce inulin - started processing sugar beet in the mid-1800s, adding a natural ingredient range 15 years ago.
The prebiotic fibre - non digestible food ingredients that help stimulate gut microflora - is included in an increasing number of foods, such as yoghurt, biscuits, chocolate and baby food, and today inulin or oligofructose is found in more than 1000 food products. The ingredient can lead to a fibre, prebiotic and calcium health claim, depending on markets.
Cosucra - with an annual turnover of €90 million - has a sales and technical network in more than 33 countries. As with other ingredients companies heavily involved in inulin, Cosucra will benefit from the increasing research into prebiotics as it builds a position in the health ingredients market.
An increase in market demand will also boost sales with prebiotics gradually enjoying a wider appeal as consumers become increasingly concerned about their gut health.