Borregaard’s ‘radical innovation’: A wood-based dietary fibre that can replace fat

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Turning trees into food: Borregaard develops zero-calorie insoluble fibre ©iStock
Turning trees into food: Borregaard develops zero-calorie insoluble fibre ©iStock
Norway’s Borregaard is a technology leader in biorefineries, producing biochemical and biomaterials that replace oil-based products. A recent innovation from the group is a wood-based dietary fibre that works as a fat-replacer.

Borregaard operates one of the world's most advanced biorefineries. By using wood as a raw material, the company produces environmentally friendly and sustainable biochemicals, biomaterials and biofuel that can replace oil-based products.

According to Borregaard, the fibres in the wood are converted into advanced grades of specialty cellulose for products in the construction and oil industries – as well as for FMCG categories like paints, cosmetics and, indeed, foodsuffs.

Rolling out ‘radical innovation’

This tech has spurred what Per-Ivar Heier, sales director Cellulose Fibrils at Borregaard, described as “radical innovation within the cellulose fibrils area”​.

For over ten years, Borregaard has worked on the development of a new technology that enables it to produce a wood-based dietary fibre that works as a fat replacer. The firm has established a demonstration plant and, having worked with target partners to grow the market, the company is now gearing up for a global rollout of this new ingredient, SenseFi.

“We are now producing regularly for target markets, partner customers and distributors. SenseFi is now about to be introduced step by step globally (to EMEA, Asia, Americas) and is currently available through distributors in 18 countries. It is in an early and emerging market phase,”​ Heier told FoodNavigator.

The fibre can be used as a fat-replacer across a wide variety of different applications, the sales executive continued. These product categories include: mayonnaise, sauces abd dressings; fillings; emulsified meat products; ice cream and frozen dessert; beverages (e.g. high protein drinks); dairy products; bakery; and ready meals.

SenseFi is not the only ingredient Borregaard produces from wood. The company's ingredients division also offers bio-based vanillin, one of the most important flavouring substances in the food industry, from the lignin parts of the wood. 


Stabilisation without the sacrifice

Heier said that SenseFi acts as a stabilising and texturizing agent that does not “sacrifice”​ characteristics like flavour or colour.

“SenseFi is a multifunctional indigestible dietary fibre delivering stabilisation, thickening and texture to food applications, without sacrificing key attributes of the final products such as flavour and colour,”​ he explained.

The dietary fibre “works well”​ as a fat replacer and has a “very high”​ water holding capacity due to its surface area. One gram of SenseFi can hold around 40 grams of water.

“Due to SenseFi’s colloidal nature, SenseFi’s particles disperse in water and are not soluble in water, like soluble hydrocolloids. [As a result,] the mouthfeel is closer to resembling fat. SenseFi gives both a creamy mouthfeel and succulent texture in fat reduced and low fat products.”

Heier said that the dietary fibre can be used to reformulate products to cut saturated fat, which has been linked to heart disease, and the overall calorie count. As well as helping develop low fat formulations, the ingredient delivers on health benefits associated with fibre consumption. “Increased insoluble fibre helps maintain bowel health,”​ he noted.

SenseFi also retains its functionality in “extreme​” conditions, such as how or high pH levels and temperatures.

It is a zero calorie, sustainable, GMO-free, gluten-free ingredient that is suitable for vegetarians. It is also Kosher and Halal certified, Heier added.

SenseFi is considered powdered cellulose and the recommended declaration on the ingredients list is powdered cellulose or E460.

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