Organic ingredients

Demand for organic ingredients surges

in the wake of coronavirus pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in demand for more sustainable and organic foods. Now, more than ever before, consumers want to make ethical and healthier choices and with one in two consumers looking at the ingredients list on products before buying[1], what goes into our food and drink has never been so important. Here, Thomas Schmidt, Marketing Director at BENEO, discusses the rising consumer interest in label transparency and how this is driving demand for organic functional ingredients.

Even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the headlines and impacted markets around the world, the important issue of well-being had been brought to the fore and highlighted as a major trend for 2020 and beyond. According to Mintel’s Director of Innovation and Insight, David Jago, “well-being is no longer about simply wanting to look after oneself in broad terms, nor is it about the extremes of a total lifestyle change or commitment to an intense regime. Instead, a holistic, longer-term approach is becoming a key motivator of consumer behaviour, underpinned by convenience, transparency and value. Concern for our environment will also grow and successful companies will be those that improve the health of the planet and its population.”

Transparency is key

Consumers want to know and understand more about what is in their food and drink products, so that they can consciously make ethical and healthy buying decisions. Transparency is a powerful purchasing driver for consumers, with many actively seeking out products that promote sustainability, organic and natural ingredients, as well as clean and clearer labels. In fact, one in three consumers around the globe say that they have increased their research on ingredients over the past year[2] and 63% of UK consumers agree that brands should be more transparent about the content of their products[3], leading to a rise in demand for products that respond to this trend. In the UK for example, Mintel predicts that ethical food sales will rise by 17% to £9.6 billion between 2019 and 2023, and with 29% of European consumers looking for some kind of traceability label on their products before purchasing (e.g. organic, vegan, fairtrade)[4], it’s easy to understand why.



The rise of organic

With organic products and ingredients considered a vital element for ethical and sustainable purchasing behaviour, consumer interest in all things natural continues to grow. Figures show organic products have become more important to 1 in 4 consumers in the last year[5] and many are willing to pay a premium price for them[6], thanks to the growing consumer perception of these products as healthy and natural, and therefore an intrinsic part of a healthier lifestyle.

The coronavirus effect

According to Soil Association Certification, the UK’s organic market is set to surpass the £2.5bn sales mark by the end of the year – achieving more than 50% growth in a decade[7]. However, in light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, it is highly likely this trend will be accelerated even further as a result of the increased consumer understanding of, and interest in, the link between nutrition and health.

Organic foods have, not surprisingly, benefitted from heightened interest as consumers increasingly look to local, home grown produce and opt for foods that are considered to be safer and healthier for you during these unsettled times. Demand for organic foods doesn’t look set to dissipate quickly either once the initial pandemic surge calms. According to the research company Ecovia Intelligence[8], which has analysed the buying patterns that followed in Europe after the BSE crisis and in Asia following SARS, demand for organic products will ‘remain strong’ post-Covid.


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Delivering organic functional ingredients

As more customers proactively seek out organic solutions, BENEO has been working in partnership with producers, exploring these areas further to help them meet the increasing consumer demand for organic food and drink products. This has led to BENEO recently announcing the expansion of its chicory root fibre and rice starch ingredient portfolio with two new organic solutions. The launch of the new additions, comprising an organic waxy rice starch and organic chicory root fibre, paves the way for BENEO to strengthen its market leading position.

Organic rice starch

Rice is widely considered a familiar and natural product, with 61% of consumers worldwide seeing rice starch as natural[9]. When asked about key starch ingredients (rice, corn, potato, tapioca and wheat), rice came out on top as ‘a cupboard ingredient’ (67%), ‘healthy’ (58%) and ‘easy to digest’ (51%).

The addition of BENEO’s new organic waxy rice starch completes the existing portfolio of rice starches with the availability of organic solutions for both regular and waxy rice starch.

Remyline O AX DR is the first of its kind to be brought to market, opening up new possibilities for product development. As a waxy rice starch, it contains no amylose and therefore maintains a stable texture throughout a product’s shelf life.

Remyline is suitable for fruit preparations, as well as meat and poultry applications. Technical trials by experts at the BENEO-Technology Center have shown positive results for these applications, as well as for improving the texture of creamy desserts and yoghurts.

The launch of BENEO’s new organic waxy rice starch is an important milestone and there is great potential for this new solution, especially within meat and poultry, as consumers worldwide place special emphasis on organic products when buying meat.

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Organic chicory root fibre

With three out of four (76%) UK consumers saying “digestive health is (very) important to me”[10], prebiotic fibres are playing an increasingly important part in helping boost fibre consumption, whilst promoting digestive health. Furthermore, more than half of European consumers associate prebiotics with helping boost immune health[11]. This really highlights the growing consumer awareness that a healthy and balanced microbiome has a positive influence on the overall body. This remains a big focus for BENEO’s research, especially as inulin and oligofructose, such as those produced by BENEO, are the only plant-based proven prebiotics. A profound body of scientific studies was evaluated by ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Pro- and Prebiotics), who confirmed that inulin and oligofructose are two of the very few proven prebiotics.

BENEO’s new Orafti®Organic, is a carefully grown and selected organic variant of its popular chicory root fibre and yet another first to market. It is regionally grown and harvested by certified organic farmers in Belgium. Available to customers from September onwards, Orafti®Organic enables manufacturers to add natural prebiotic fibres that will improve taste and texture, while also allowing for fat and sugar reduction in products across key applications such as dairy, cereals, bakery and confectionery.

Meeting increased customer demand

BENEO has seen requests for organic variants constantly growing and is pleased to be the first functional ingredients provider to be able to offer these solutions to producers. BENEO is confident this move to expand the overall organic ingredients portfolio will be highly appreciated by the industry and shows particular promise for new product developments in this growing area of the market.

BENEO has two production plants for chicory root fibre – one in Oreye, Belgium and one in Pemuco, Chile. Being located in two different hemispheres, the company also benefits from two harvests per year. There have also been significant investments into the plant for specialty rice ingredients in Wijgmaal, Belgium, in previous years. Only very recently BENEO announced a 50 million Euro investment to increase production capacity in the Wijgmaal plant by 50% by 2022. This infrastructure, combined with BENEO’s extensive planning system, means the company is well prepared to meet increased demand for its organic ingredient offerings.

Putting it into practice

BENEO‘s portfolio is based on functional ingredients derived from natural sources.

Additionally, the company follows a customer- centric approach and as such, its offerings are largely determined by customer demand. With this in mind, the BENEO-Technology Center works hard to translate these ingredients into versatile recipe concepts for producers to use and adapt in their own facilities.

With rice being such an accepted and recognisable kitchen cupboard ingredient, BENEO has already worked with manufacturers on a wide range of recipe concepts. These include everything from cream cheese, bakery creams, ice creams and tomato-based sauces, through to spoonable dressings and ketchups. Thanks to BENEO’s portfolio of specialty rice ingredients, a wide range of organic recipes are now possible, including the following.

The introduction of BENEO’s organic waxy rice starch and organic chicory root fibre highlights the enormous potential for using these ingredients in organic food and drink products. As consumer interest in natural and organic products continues to rise, this new capability will enable food manufacturers to explore new avenues for organic products across various applications. Thanks to BENEO’s versatile portfolio, the company is able to offer solutions that meet a wide range of end user needs – organically.


1 BENEO Clean Label Consumer Research 2018, conducted by Haystack in Germany, UK, USA (N=3000 (1000/country)).
2 Health Focus International Global Trend Study 2018
3 Mintel Food & Drink (2018, 2019)
4 BENEO Health & Nutrition Survey 2019 West-Europe, N = 3863, average of the countries: BE, NL, UK, ES, FR
5 HFI 2019
6 HFI 2019
7 Soil Association Certification Organic Market Report 2020
9 HFI Global Trend Study 2018
10 FMCG Gurus 2019
11 FMCG Gurus 2020



BENEO offers functional ingredients derived from chicory roots, beet sugar, rice and wheat. BENEO is the ideal partner to help improve a product in its nutritional and technological characteristics. Key nutritional benefits are ‘less fat’, ‘less sugar’, ‘less calories’, ‘added fibre’, ‘gluten-free’ and dairy alternatives as well as energy management, digestive, bone and dental health. Key technological benefits focus on taste and texture improvements. Through a unique chain of expertise, including the BENEO-Institute that provides decisive insights into nutrition science and legislation, and the BENEO-Technology Center that consults in application technology, BENEO actively supports customers in the development of more balanced and healthy food products.

BENEO is a division of the Südzucker Group that employs more than 1000 people and has production units in Belgium, Chile, Germany and Italy.

For further information on BENEO and its ingredients, please visit: and or follow BENEO on Twitter: @_BENEO or LinkedIn: HFI 2019