Plant-based fructans for increased animal welfare: provision processes and remaining challenges
Fructans are carbohydrates consisting of fructose monomers linked by β-2,1- and/or β-2,6-glycosidic bonds with linear or branched structure. These carbohydrates belong to the group of prebiotic dietary fibre with health-promoting potential for humans and mammals due to their indigestibility and selective stimulation of microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract. This makes fructans interesting mainly for healthy food as well as animal feed applications. As a consequence of a growing public awareness for animal welfare, dietary fibre and thus fructans move into the focus as a fibre-rich feeding improving not only animals’ health but also their well-being. Against this background, this paper summarises the known effects of fructans focusing on pigs and highlights the state of the art in fructan production processes from plant material as well as selected current research lines. Additionally, an attempt is made to assess the potential of European fructan production for an application as animal feed. Based on this, challenges in the field of fructan production are addressed and alternative substrates for fructans are discussed and pointed out.
Fructan production process