Mounting demand for plant-based ingredients in animal nutrition and pharmaceuticals can be majorly credited for the growth of corn fiber market. With the rising popularity of low-sugar foods, this product has gained considerable traction in recent times. The surging prominence of biofuels in the automotive sector is also fostering the global market outlook.
Corn fiber is used extensively to make starches, sweeteners, and ethanol, and thus, finds usage in varied industry verticals. Owing to its high fiber content, its prebiotic properties are considered advantageous for digestive health. Since the fiber content in corn fiber remains unaffected by the pasteurization process, the product is widely utilized by beverage manufacturers.
In effect, the uptake of corn fiber in production processes in diverse industries is propelling business growth. According to a research report by Global Market Insights Inc., the corn fiber market size is likely to exceed $1.8 billion in revenue by 2028. Following are four prominent trends that are driving the growth of the market:
1. Increasing usage of soluble corn fiber in food and beverages
Soluble corn fiber is produced through the enzymatic hydrolysis of corn starch. It is soluble in water, has low viscosity, and is heat and pH stable. With rising health consciousness among consumers and the growing prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic illnesses, sugar-free or low-sugar confectionery products have gained massive popularity. However, their inferior taste or inclusion of numerous artificial-sounding ingredients can be off-putting to buyers.
This has created scope for producers to employ corn fiber benefits for sugar content reduction. In chocolates, for instance, scientists have found that sugar content can be reduced by adding soluble corn fiber since it allows the amount of sugar to be reduced without altering the taste and texture profile. Manufacturers have also been implementing effective strategies to penetrate markets that depict substantial demand for these products.
To cite an instance, in July 2021, Cargill, a global food firm with a significant foothold in the sugar-reduction space, announced a $45 million investment toward the addition of soluble fibers to its European portfolio of sweeteners, texturizers, and starchers, to address the escalating demand for low-sugar items in the region with its soluble fibers that promise up to 30% sugar reduction. Subsequently, corn fiber nutrition has helped extensive product utilization across the food & beverage industry.
2. Leveraging corn fiber benefits in automotive sector
Low-carbon fuels are a vital component in transportation as well as the creation of a cleaner environment. Most ethanol is produced from the starch obtained from corn kernels, wherein the fiber is difficult to use as it is a complex matric containing starch, oil, protein, minerals, cellulose, and hemicellulose. By using advanced biology, biofuel producers are unlocking new markets and lucrative avenues for production.
To that effect, corn fiber ethanol technologies are being increasingly adopted by corn ethanol refineries to take advantage of rising ethanol and corn oil yields. To that effect, in February 2022, Renewable Fuels Association, a major trade association in the U.S. ethanol industry, released a report that projected that corn ethanol could help the ethanol industry achieve net-zero carbon emissions before 2050.
This has accelerated the focus on the development of novel technologies for high-value, low-carbon cellulosic ethanol production from corn fiber, which is typically used for animal feed. As a result, the high prominence of corn ethanol in the automotive industry is slated to support corn fiber market growth.
3. Surging integration in pharmaceutical applications
Corn silk, long shiny fibers present at the top of an ear of corn, is utilized as a medicine. It consists of carbohydrates, minerals, proteins, vitamins, and fiber. It also contains chemicals that work like diuretics or water pills and could alter blood sugar levels as well as alleviate inflammation.
It is widely used in cases of inflammation of the urinary system and the prostate, bladder infections, bedwetting, and kidney stones. It also finds usage in the treatment of diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and fatigue.
Furthermore, latest studies have examined the impact of soluble corn fiber (SCF) on insulin and glycemic response. These studies have concluded that adding SCF to the diet can help control postprandial glycemic response (GR) while substituting total carbohydrates with SCF could efficiently lower insulin response (IR) and GR. As a result, effective product utilization in the medical sector is impelling the growth of the overall corn fiber industry.
4. Increasing uptake in the textile industry
Fabrics made using corn fiber require minimal maintenance and are comfortable to wear and fairly inexpensive. The fiber is also stain-resistant and does not fade easily, which makes it suitable for applications like diapers, upholstery, readymade apparel, bedding, and carpets. Further, not only does this fabric needs less fuel during manufacturing but the fiber in itself is eco-friendly.
Available in both filament and spun forms in a broad range of counts from the micro denier to high counts, corn fiber is fit for the lightest fabrics for use in the most robust applications. Corn fibers are inherently flame retardant and thus, do not require chemical additives or surface treatments, which makes them eco-compatible. These fibers also strike a balance between the strength of the fabric and qualities of softness, comfort, and fine drape.
Corn fiber is presently integrated into various apparel, such as contemporary casual and athletic wear t-shirts, fleece, and jeans. It also has potential applications in new fiberfill blends for thermal lining that provides natural insulation. UV light resistance, easy upkeep, good soil release, high strength, quick-drying, excellent after-wash appearance, and high crystallization and melting points are some of the features that are stimulating the adoption of soluble corn fiber in textile production.
Due to its benefits, corn fiber has gained massive popularity among manufacturers across various industries. Additionally, the development of novel technologies that involve product usage has also created massive growth potential for the industry.
Recent upsurge in demand for healthier food & beverage items has been favorable for product uptake, particularly for the adoption of soluble corn fiber in bakery & confectionery products. Likewise, in the textile industry, corn fiber is being used in the manufacturing of strong fabrics. Soaring adoption of the product across numerous sectors is positively shaping the future of the corn fiber industry.