BENEO, one of the leading manufacturers of functional ingredients, is demonstrating how supply security and sustainability can go hand in hand. While increasing global capacity for its prebiotic chicory root fibers by 30%, thanks to a 90 million Euro investment ($88.9 million USD) into its production plant in Pemuco, Chile, it is also reducing specific energy consumption by 35%.
As consumer awareness of digestive health, immunity, the gut microbiome, and its beneficial effect on overall well-being continues to grow, so does the demand for BENEO’s prebiotic and natural chicory root fibers. Additionally, present times demonstrate the rising importance of saving energy today and for future generations. To deliver a secure supply of chicory root fiber, while also keeping sustainability top of mind, BENEO’s capacity increase is accompanied by steps that allow it to reduce specific energy consumption by 35%.
At its Pemuco plant in Chile, BENEO conducted an analysis of the entire production process to identify any areas where energy efficiency could be improved. Based on these findings, the company has upgraded existing processing equipment and invested in new technology, such as new evaporation systems, which will not only reduce the energy required but also ensures that the 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 fiber 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] Catering to this rising demand, BENEO will open a new refinery line in Pemuco, Chile, by the end of this year, leading to a 15% increase in its total chicory root fiber capacity. This will be followed by an additional 15% increase due to be completed next spring, resulting in a total increase in capacity of 30%. While ensuring a secure supply of chicory root fibers, sustainability is a key focus for BENEO as it aims to further reduce its overall CO2 emissions.
Chicory root fibers (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. The positive effects of chicory root fibers on bifidobacteria abundance in gut microbiota and on bowel function parameters have recently been demonstrated by a new systematic literature review with meta-analyses, considered the strongest methodology in the hierarchy of scientific evidence.[ii] BENEO’s prebiotic fibers Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose are natural, non-GMO, and clean label, and can be used in a wide range of food and drink applications.
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BENEO has long-term experience in developing and producing plant-based functional ingredients from natural sources for the food, feed, and pharmaceutical industries. By supporting health and optimizing taste and texture, they help improve the nutritional and technical properties of a wide variety of products.
Through a unique chain of expertise, BENEO offers customers advice and inspiration on new product ideas that support a healthy lifestyle in a holistic way. This includes the BENEO-Institute that provides decisive insights into nutrition science and legislation and the BENEO-Technology Center that consults in application technology.
Formed in 2007, BENEO is active in over 80 countries, employs more than 1000 people and has six state-of-the-art production sites in Belgium, Chile, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands that deliver high-quality ingredients at all times.
[i] HealthFocus International, Global Trends Report 2018, 2022
[ii] Nagy DU, Sándor-Bajusz KA, Bódy B, Decsi T, Van Harsselaar J, Theis S & Lohner S (2022) Effect of chicory-derived inulin-type fructans on abundance of Bifidobacterium and on bowel function: a systematic review with meta-analyses. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. Published 14 July 2022, DOI: 10.1080/10408398.2022.2098246