Digestive health is fundamental to one’s overall health and is related to everything that happens in the human body. Globally, many people suffer from certain types of gut disorders. This provides business opportunities for manufacturers looking to provide effective products that can help manage illness as well as promote overall health and wellness.
Within the digestive health market, probiotics are a trending ingredient with considerable growth, notably in the form of dietary supplements, yoghurts and infant formula. Globally, the probiotics market is projected to reach $50 billion by 2020. Asia is dubbed the leading territory driving the global market and sales are expected to reach $19.2 billion by 2020, with a CAGR of 8.3 percent.1 China, India and Japan are cited as the primary drivers of the Asian market and in China, infant formula is projected to be a key growth driver of the probiotics market through 2023.2 Lux Research has projected infant formula with probiotics will claim a market share of 76 percent, worth $22.9 billion globally by 2024.3
Probiotics health appeal
Probiotics are friendly microbes that help to maintain a healthy digestive and immune system. This health appeal has significantly driven the number of probiotic products launches and consumers today have more choices than ever before. In the past decade, more than 500 food and beverage products fortified with probiotics (usually using strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) were produced in Asia.4
Products designed to support digestion continue to stand out in the marketplace. Foods using claims such as ‘natural’, ‘healthy’ and ‘functional’ are generally more likely to be accepted than those without. This is where probiotics fit all three factors of success with an added potential benefit to improve taste and texture in food formats. Probiotics are versatile and can be incorporated into various food formats such as fermented dairy products, fermented fruit and vegetable juices, tea-based drinks, and confectionery.
Some of these innovative foods with health benefits can be found across Asia markets. For example, fruit juices containing Lactobacillus paracasei Lpc-37® in Thailand, ready-to-drink green tea with Lactobacillus acidophilus La-14® in Japan, and chocolate balls with Bifidobacterium lactis HN019™ in Australia.
Probiotics promises a positive outlook
In the New Nutrition Business 2017 report, ‘Digestive Wellness 2.0’ was listed as one of the key trends driving food, nutrition, and health. According to the report, digestive wellness is a benefit platform entering a new era thanks to new technologies and understanding of the effects that gut health has on overall health. This trend further states consumers are eager to feel the benefits of gut health and their willingness to go all out to experience it.5
The probiotics market has benefited from increased consumer awareness and strong scientific data detailing their health benefits. More importantly, new research has demonstrated the importance of probiotics for other health conditions such as weight management, immune health, and diabetes. With clinical advancement, innovation in delivery format, along with demand for new start-ups and small companies, the probiotics category is poised to shine in the coming years.
Dr Susan Jin is product line director, Asia Pacific, Probiotics, Cultures and Food Protection at DuPont Nutrition and Health.