Prebiotic and probiotic foods making an impact beyond dairy

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 1st October 2009

Once relegated primarily to the domain of yoghurt and high-fibre fare, the market for food and beverage products fortified with probiotics and prebiotics has taken off as digestive health emerged as one of the hottest topics in the food and beverage arena.According to latest report from market researcher Packaged Facts, Boosting Immunity Through Digestion: The Relation Among Probiotics, Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes, the global retail market for probiotic/prebiotic foods and beverages was US$15 billion (A $18.5b) in 2008, a 13% increase over 2007.

Driving future growth are two factors: 1) innovations in probiotic and prebiotic formulations that allow an increasing number of products to be enhanced with such ingredients, and 2) increasing consumer awareness of the relation between digestive health and immunity and with overall wellness. Packaged Facts projects the global market will exceed US$22 billion in 2013, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% between 2004 and 2013.

“Consumers in developed countries are becoming increasingly aware of their ability to treat health concerns and problems with diet,” Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts, advised. “Combined with knowledge that allows consumers to address these concerns without conventional medical involvement is driving interest in nutrition as it relates to digestive health and digestive health as it relates to overall wellness.”

Aside from yoghurt, leading categories of food and beverage introductions containing probiotics and/or prebiotics through the first six months of 2009 included milk, functional drinks, breakfast cereals, cheese, and cookies. And, despite the probiotics category being more established in the digestive health market, the prebiotics sector is growing faster with a presence in an array of products that range from pudding to frozen chicken dinners.

Working hand-in-hand with probiotics, digestive enzymes can be used in the manufacture of foods to address specific health concerns such as acid reflux, gas and heartburn. They are the new frontier when it comes to digestive health, and evidence suggests beverages, candy, dried goods, fruit juices, margarine, snack bars and other common foods would serve as good delivery vehicles for active digestive enzymes.