Progressive Grocer

AUG 2015

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Fiber Feature The Future of Fiber With more studies showing the nutrient's benefits — and consumers who want them — fiber-rich and -fortified products are expanding throughout the store. By Lynn Petrak W hile better-for-you fads may come and go — remember oat bran, cabbage soup, and low-carb diets? — the health halo around fber-rich foods has been a little more frmly afxed than other foods perceived as keys to a healthy diet. Fiber has long been touted for its health and nutrition bene- fts. While adequate fber intake has been a dietary recommen- dation for decades, other advantages of dietary fber are getting more attention. And luckily for grocery retailers, manufacturers are stepping up with a new generation of products. "Fiber used to be known mainly for its benefts as a laxative, and foods such as prunes, as well as powdered fber supplements, were common sources of fber," says Tanya Zuckerbrot, a New York-based registered dietitian and author of "Te F-Factor Diet" and "Te Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories & Fat Disappear — with Fiber!" "However, in recent years, fber has become one of the hot- test nutrients, acknowledged for its many health benefts, like lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugars, healthy digestion, lowering cancer risk, and more, validated by a wealth of scientifc evidence." A similar compare/contrast is drawn by Alyssa Nard, director of marketing for Pittsburgh-based nutrition bar maker NuGo Nutrition. "A lot of people used to have this idea that 'fber' was synonymous with 'cardboard,' and that only senior citizens needed fber," she notes. "But ... in recent years, consumers have really become much more aware of the comprehensive health benefts of dietary fber, and the delicious high-fber food options available to help provide those benefts. We know that people shopping at grocery stores are looking for fber-flled foods, and there are now more options than ever to help shoppers check fber of the grocery list." Tracking with that assessment, several consumer studies have revealed a steady interest in dietary fber. As one example, Zuckerbrot cites a recent food and health survey from the Washington, D.C.-based International Food Information Council (IFIC). "When asked which nutrients they want to consume as much or more often in their diet, whole grains ranked frst and fber was a close second," she says. Tat fber fgure rose by 2 percent, to 55 percent, from last year to this year. Other surveys have found similar attitudes. In its 2015 "Healthy Eating Trends Around the World" report, Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research frm Nielsen found that almost one-third (30 percent) of consumers in North America rank fber as "very important" in their food-buy- ing decisions, on par with protein and whole grains. Fiber Optics A quick scan of the marketplace supports interest in fber- rich foods. Nutrition bars represent an already thriving and expanding category, and many of those bars, from major brands like Nutri Grain's Fiber & Oat Bars, are merchan- dised as high in fber. NuGo's Nard says that bars are a convenient way to add fber to the diet. "More and more, we hear that people are looking for ways to fnd dietary fber that tastes good and is free of artifcial ingredients or added sugars," she observes. "We recognized the huge potential of a natural, delicious, high-fber product that people could eat without worrying about gastrointestinal upset." Most recently, NuGo launched the Fiber d'Lish bar, a Non-GMO Project Verifed item sweetened with fruit juices and free of artifcial additives. Cereal is another category in which fber is top of mind August 2015 | | 69

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