Beneo Orafti, part of the Sudzucker group, has been present in the CEE market for more than 13 years, said Sander Van Vugt, sales manager, Northern and Eastern Europe. But it is expecting more sales in the CEE region as more companies invest in setting up factories here, more people become educated about the benefits of prebiotics and local producers also start to show more interest in health foods. However Van Vugt told NutraIngredients.com that in this market there is a need to raise more awareness about the benefits of healthy ingredients. Inulin education "People know what inulin is in Western Europe," he said. "Here you have to explain what it is." Van Vugt gave a presentation at the FiCEE trade show this week to introduce the concept of inulin and oligofructose as nutritional dietary fibres to visitors, drawing on benefits such as aiding calcium absorption, potential as fat and sugar replacers, and ability to boost satiety. In the prebiotic/gut health arena Beneo Orafti has received a strong helping hand in the CEE market thanks to Dannone's advertising around its Activia product. Beneo is now able to move "in its slipstream", he said. There is also scope to "copy and paste" product concepts using inulin from Western to Eastern Europe. Products already on the market using Beneo inulin include Swisslion Juvitana biscuits in Serbia, which are marketed for calcium absorption and balanced digestion; DM-Snacks SunChine breakfast cereals in Poland for calcium absorption; and Lotus Fruit ice cream in Czech Republic, for health and balance of the digestive system and natural defences. Premiumisation Van Vugt did not agree that, as inulin becomes better known, it is likely to be used in more mass market products made by local producers. "We are always going after the premium price," he said. But while big companies have the marketing budgets to develop new markets and categories, smaller companies be they local or not - who can be more conservative and often have restricted commerical budgets - can develop sub-niches and move in afterwards. Beneo Orafti said countries in the region showing the most promise and prebiotic awareness were the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. Van Vugt said there is huge potential at the moment in Poland, with growth of between 10 and 20 per cent. This rate is, in fact, in parallel with the growth rate presently seen on a worldwide basis.