CEO Fred Goldman told NutraIngredients-USA.com that the company has spent two years developing the right combinations of ingredients to make palatable foods formulated with inulin - a tricky undertaking since only a small percentage change in ingredients can alter the sensory properties of the finished product.
The research yielded methods for using inulin in a number of foods, including chocolate and donuts, and the company has filed patents in the US and Europe on the ingredient proportions. Although FGH has yet to settle on a name for its inulin method, in the interim it is dubbed XW8 (X-Weight).
The methods work using inulin derived from different sources, such as chicory root or the Mexican agave plant.
FGH's Gol-D-Lite brand of inulin chocolate, believed by Goldman to be the first in the world, has a glycemic index of 16, compared to 23 for a sweetener. It has been available for the past four months following a soft launch and is currently being trialed by retailer Trader Joe's, which already stocks the company's low carb chocolate.
Goldman expects that it will be another six months before the product rolls out at supermarket level, as some branding and packaging changes may need to be made.
"We are very proud of what we have done," he said.
The branded product is produced for FGH in Spain but Goldman said that he plans to license the method to other companies.
"There is a limit to what one facility can produce," he said. "Everyone likes to put their own fingerprint on products. There will be many different usages and we couldn't possibly do them all."
It is also prepared to supply product for custom branding and is currently working closely with New Jersey-based supplement company Spa Trim to bring out a range of branded products.
Goldman envisages partnerships with inulin suppliers, users, and food companies looking to market products using the soluble fiber, which would allow them to approach major food producers together to offer a turnkey solution.
As to the potential, Goldman compared it to the Splenda sweetener brand, which turns over $1 billion a year.
"We see this as far more useful if promoted in the right way. It could have a significant impact, to say the least, and could help with the obesity problem."
The company is taking a global outlook, and will be placing much emphasis on Europe, where consumers are very health conscious and aware. Japan is also identified as having strong potential.
However it is important that overall marketing dresses the several health benefits of the products - that is glycemic index, high fiber and low calorie. This is because consumers in different markets have varying degrees of understanding of each of these attributes.
For example, in Japan the glycemic index is not widely understood, but calories are. Therefore marketing there will draw more upon the calorie content.
Gol-D-Lite has been clinically tested for diabetics in the United States by Diabetics 4 Diabetics, and Goldman said the results were "sensationally good". So good, in fact, that the company waived its research fee and now features the products in its Diabetic Hall of Fame as products that are treats diabetics had to forego in the past, but can now help them to maintain glucose control.
In particular, Goldman said the products will be marvellous for diabetic children, allowing them to enjoy sweets and delicacies without having to watch quantities or be mortally sick afterwards.
The ability of inulin to lower the glycemic index of chocolate was recently reinforced in research carried out by Leatherhead Food in the UK. It tested a variety of non-digestible carbohydrates instead of sucrose, and found that Sensus' Frutafit brand inulin and others had a glycemic index of between four and 26, compared to 44 for the control chocolate.
FGH Consuling can be contacted by email.