Beneo continues investment in chicory root fibre product ranges

Functional ingredients business Beneo has confirmed its expansion in investment for its chicory root fibres by 30%, with potential applications for snacks and confectionery, writes Neill Barston.

A total of €90 million Euro is being placed into its production plant in Pemuco, Chile, and it is reducing specific energy consumption by 35% at the same time.

As consumer awareness of digestive health, immunity, the gut microbiome and its beneficial effect on overall wellbeing continues to grow, so does the demand for the company’s prebiotic and natural chicory root fibres. Alongside this, present times demonstrate the rising importance of saving energy today, and for future generations.

To deliver a secure supply of chicory root fibre, while also keeping sustainability top of mind, the company’s capacity increase is accompanied by steps that allow it to reduce specific energy consumption by 35%.

At its Pemuco plant in Chile, the business conducted an analysis of the whole production process to identify any areas where energy efficiency could be improved.

Based on these findings, it has upgraded existing processing equipment and invested in new technology, such as new evaporation systems, which not only reduces the energy required, but also ensures energy is used in the most efficient way possible. This investment into new technology also allows for improved process continuation, as it means equipment can be cleaned without interruption of the overall process, which in turn results in further significant energy savings.

Guillermo Fernandez, Head of Manufacturing at Beneo in Chile comments: “At Beneo, ensuring reliable and consistent delivery to our customers goes hand in hand with taking steps towards more sustainable and environmentally friendly production processes. This also means that for every investment the highest level of energy efficiency is applied. Therefore, the significant reduction of specific energy consumption at our chicory root fibre plant in Pemuco is an important milestone for us.”

Globally, consumer interest in prebiotics continues to grow and has already seen an increase from 51% in 2018 to 61% in 2022.i To cater for this rising demand, the business will open a new refinery line in Pemuco, Chile, by the end of this year, leading to a 15% increase of its total chicory root fibres capacity. This will be followed by an additional 15% increase due to be completed next spring, resulting in a total increase of 30%.

While ensuring a secure supply of chicory root fibres, sustainability is kept top of mind for the firm as it aims to further reduce its overall CO2 emissions.

Chicory root fibres (inulin and oligofructose) are the only plant-based prebiotics. According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), they belong to the very few proven prebiotics.

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