Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are a type of naturally occurring oligosaccharide fructans that act as sweeteners with sweetness levels that are one-third to half that of commercial sugar. They can be extracted from substances like garlic, asparagus, blue agave, onion, artichoke, chicory, leek, banana, etc or can be synthetically made using sucrose. FOS are also called oligofructose and oligofructan.
The FOS market is fragmented as a result of various players who have sought to capitalise on the steady growth witnessed by the market in recent years. R&D has been a focus area for manufacturers in an attempt to improve existing products, which is causing further market expansion.
India-based Tata Chemicals has collaborated with Yale University’s Department of Immunobiology to further explore the health benefits of FOS. Jiangnan University’s School of Food Science and Technology, located in Wuxi, China has also been doing extensive research in FOS, mainly in the area of low-cost production.
Some of the key players in the FOS market include Meiji Food Materia, Tata Chemicals Limited, Sensus America LLC, Victory Biology Engineering, Beneo, GTC Nutrition, Cargill, Jarrow Formulas, Cosucra-Groupe Warcoing, Orafti Active Food Ingredients, Quantum Hi-Tech, Ingredion Incorporated, Beghin-Meiji Industries, Baolingbao Biology, Beneo-Orafti, Prebiotin, CJ CheilJedang, Shadong Bailong Chuangyua.
Joint ventures are a common feature in the market as companies attempt to cement their presence in extra-regional market. For example, Beghin-Meiji, which produces FOS under the brand name Actilight for the European market, is a tie-up between the FOS giant Meiji Food Materia and a French company.
Meanwhile, Meji’s products in the rest of the world are mainly sold under the brand name Meioligo. Beneo-Orafti is another such joint venture between Beneo and Orafti Active Food Ingredients. Such JVs help companies combine their respective areas of expertise, navigate complex government regulations and enhance product visibility.
Market players have usually preferred to enter the various segments of the FOS market by releasing products under different brand names. Some popular brands available in the market include Source Naturals, Happy Baby, BioCare, Meioligo, NOW, Tiens, Natures Aid, Aptamil, Actilight, MyProtein, Bulksupplements, Jetsu and Health Plus.
Some players have also sought to focus on specific segments to create a niche market. The infant formula segment has been preferred for this purpose since it enjoys the largest market share. Jarrow Formulas is one such company specialising in the infant formula segment.
Other segments include dietary supplements, food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and animal feed. Some manufacturers and vendors also segment the FOS market based on solid and liquid products or the basis of FOS source, namely insulin or sucrose.
Drivers and Trends in the Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) Market
A key driver of the FOS market has been the increasing awareness about the health benefits of FOS. This includes stimulation of lactobacilli and bifido bacteria growth, which produces short-chain fatty acids, thereby slowing down mucosal atrophy and preventing colon damage
Replacing FOS with traditional sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose and xylitol, also brings about health benefits like preventing weight gain; it also reduces cholesterol, triglyceride and phospholipid levels, hence increasing absorption of minerals like calcium and magnesium.
Increasing research into health benefits of FOS has in turn led to governmental support to the industry. This trend is likely to continue as lifestyle-related ailments are becoming an increasing concern globally. Further governmental relaxations are also expected.
Europe has been the largest regional segment for the FOS market as a result of high awareness levels, public reliance on FOS products and government support to the industry. Growing lifestyle changes in North America towards healthy living has meanwhile rendered the North American market the second largest regional segment.
The East Asian and South Asian regional segments have seen the fastest growth, mainly led by improving lifestyles and health consciousness in the developing economies of China, India and Southeast Asia. Latin America, Middle East and Africa, and Oceania are the other major regional segments.
The FOS market can be segmented based on the following:
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