Beneo had announced in August that oligofructose had been approved for use for more products in India, having previously approved for use in bakery items.
The Germany-based company said that the Indian Ministry of Health has approved oligofructose for use in sweets, dairy products, frozen desserts, ice cream, cereals, chocolates and meat applications.
However, at the Food Ingredients India (Fi India) exhibition in Mumbai on October 4, a Beneo Asia Pacific spokesperson told FoodNavigator-Asia that the Indian ministry had still not cleared the fibre for infant milk powder, a key market for the company.
“We are still talking to the food authorities here in India, including the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India [FSSAI], as per my understanding. They have some requirements that the company is addressing,” she said.
The spokesperson did not elaborate on why the authorities held back approval for infant milk powder in India, even as dairy products have been allowed, adding, “the approval would be granted in the near future.”
India accounts for 7% of the world’s infant formula market, according to UBIC Consulting, and the market is growing at double digit percentage annual rates.
Officials from the Ministry of Health and the FSSAI at Fi India also did not elaborate on why there is a delay in the said approval.
Derived from chicory root, oligofructose is a soluble prebiotic dietary fibre; at levels of five grams each day, it is claimed to stimulate and increase the bifidobacteria (prebiotic effect).
Due to its moderately sweet taste, oligofructose is said to be able to partly replace sugar in some products, the company said, adding that in combination with high intensity sweeteners it provides balanced sweetness.
Oligofructose has also been approved for use in the popular ‘Traditional Indian Sweets’ category, which includes sweets such as Halwa, Mysore Pak and Boondi Ladoo, according to the company.
As a result of this approval and subsequent use, food manufacturers will be able to reach a wider cross-section of consumers with the fibre-type and prebiotic benefits of oligofructose, the company had said at that time.
A recent report from the Indian Council of Medical Research also said that fibre-enriched food will steadily gain importance in India as “Western-style” diets – typically processed or refined and low in fibre – influence food in urban India.