Fiberstar, Inc. has signed a distribution agreement with Batory Foods effective July 1, 2018. Over the years, Fiberstar added capacity, introduced new Citri-Fi products and entered into new categories. To increase the sales momentum and to penetrate the food and beverage market, Fiberstar has partnered with Batory Foods.
“Batory Foods has an excellent track record within the food and beverage market,” says John Haen, President and CEO of Fiberstar. “We are pleased to have Batory Foods as our Western Distributor. They will complement our specialty ingredient business and provide us the additional sales bandwidth.”
Fiberstar sells Citri-Fi, a natural fiber produced from citrus fruit. The patented process opens up the fiber to create a high surface area which lends itself to high water holding capacity and emulsification properties. This natural fiber contains both insoluble and soluble fiber with high amounts of pectin which “makes this fiber one of the best, functional fibers on the market.”
According to Haen, Fiberstar has had limited emphasis on the US in the past. “Over the last five years, the company focused on the Midwest and Eastern US with partial coverage in the west. We have been aware of the untapped opportunities on the West Coast. Expanding presence in this region was the next step to growing the business.”
“There is a plethora of food, beverage and pet companies in the Western US that have product lines fit for our Citri-Fi natural, functional citrus fiber. These areas include meats, bakery, beverage, sauces, dressings, nutrition and pet companies to name a few,” he tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
Batory Foods has a track record of selling a variety of ingredients especially specialty fibers like Citri-Fi to the US food and beverage industry. “Their team is excited to add Citri-Fi to their portfolio so that it gives their customers another natural, label-friendly solution. Both companies foster entrepreneurial cultures that complement the business strategy and go-to-market,” notes Haen.
There has been an increase in Citri-Fi citrus fiber demand for several reasons. Haen believes that the clean label movement caused many ingredients to come under scrutiny. “Some of these ingredients include starches, gums and emulsifiers. Product developers are searching for label-friendly alternatives that provide similar functionality,” he says.
Citri-Fi is created from a chemical-free process that opens up the fiber to increase the surface area. This surface area lends itself to high water holding capacity and emulsification properties similar to other hydrocolloids. As a result, product developers can use this natural citrus fiber to replace certain starches, gum and emulsifiers in various food products such as meats, bakery, beverages, sauces and dressings.
“The key here is that Citri-Fi can hold onto the water and oil in most harsh food processing conditions such as heat, freeze/thaw and shear. Other ingredients leech water after being subjected to such processes which negatively impacts the food product’s quality. Citri-Fi can be labeled as citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour which resonates well with the clean label markets,” Haen explains.
Other reasons include its non-GMO and non-allergenic status. Many companies are moving toward sourcing non-GMO ingredients. Moreover, the allergen-free segment is always scouting for ingredients to improve the product quality. “We work with several gluten-free companies to improve texture and nutrition within their product lines. Lastly, the plant-based trend is also supporting Citri-Fi’s growth since this natural fiber is derived from citrus fruit,” he adds.
Meanwhile, Fiberstar has recently invested US$12,000,000 in manufacturing facilities to support supply demand from current and new customers for the next few years. The company has made the respective investments to secure raw materials in anticipation of significant growth for the years to come, according to Haen.
Fibers that qualify as fiber under the new FDA guidelines will always be in demand due to the fiber fortification market. “However, some manufacturers are trying to reduce the number of ingredients on their labels, so they are seeking multi-functional ingredients including fibers,” he continues. “Fibers, like Citri-Fi, provide higher levels of functionality compared to fortifying fibers. For instance, Citri-Fi traps oil and water tightly to improve product stability during harsh food processing conditions. As a result, texture and quality are improved over shelf life. And because Citri-Fi qualifies as a fiber under the new FDA guidelines, formulators can claim fiber on the nutritional labeling.”
Three product lines in the portfolio include the 100 series (native citrus fiber), 200 series (citrus fiber co-processed with guar gum) and the 300 series (citrus fiber co-processed with xanthan gum). The 200 and 300 series are useful in applications requiring additional viscosity.
Because Citri-Fi can be labeled as citrus fiber, dried citrus pulp or citrus flour, and is approved for use in many meat and poultry applications, it resonates well within the clean label market. This natural fiber can replace starches, gums, emulsifiers and chemical stabilizers, depending on the application. In addition, this natural fiber is non-GMO and allergen-free and the 100 product line requires no E-number labeling.