Trending in gut health: Branded probiotics build consumer trust, says Kerry expert
28 Apr 2020 --- As digestive health continues to amass consumer interest, branded probiotics are a “key trend” to look out for, according to Dr. Donald Cox, Director of R&D at Kerry. Cox tells NutritionInsight that branded probiotics “give consumers a clear point of reference when browsing shelves crammed with products claiming to offer digestive health benefits.” He also explains that branded ingredients help people understand exactly what a product has been fortified with and allows manufacturers to showcase specific research. This builds consumer trust and gains their loyalty, resulting in repeat purchases.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak and its potential repercussions for the industry, Kerry is highlighting branded ingredients, such as GanedenBC30, which contribute to digestive health and overall wellness. In the immunity space, John Quilter, Vice President and General Manager at Kerry, recently stated that the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to “long-lasting” changes in popular attitudes surrounding immune health. Quilter also pegged digestive health and immunity as staple nutrition trends that will grow further in 2020, which comes as Biosearch Life launches a clinical trial examining the effect of its Hereditum Immunactiv K8 product on COVID-19.
On a growth trajectory
“Probiotics will become even more mainstream as an ingredient in everyday food and beverage products, largely because consumers want and expect to see them there. The ‘big story’ in the probiotics space is growth – which is a result of increasing consumer interest and a more proactive approach to health generally. Over the past five years, the number of Google searches for ‘gut health’ has grown by 669 percent and there’s increasing evidence that these consumers understand the potential of digestive health ingredients,” Cox details.
Innova Market Insights data shows an 11 percent rise in food and beverage launches with a digestive health claim (Global, 2014-2018). There was also a 17 percent growth in launches with a “probiotic” claim and a 10 percent growth in launches with a “fermentation” claim for the same period. Meanwhile, a 2018 Innova Market Insights survey found that 68 percent of consumers said they consume fiber to promote healthy digestion.
Previously, NutritionInsight reported on which trends are driving the digestive health space, with a particular focus on probiotic innovations and the gut-brains axis.
Last year, the company surveyed over 11,000 health-conscious consumers in 14 countries. Participants were asked if they would be interested in purchasing products across various categories if they contained ingredients promoting digestive health.
“With probiotics traditionally associated with refrigerated dairy products, it is perhaps unsurprising that yogurt and yogurt-based drinks emerged as the most popular option at 48 percent. Yet significant numbers also expressed an interest in categories like fruit and vegetable juices (38 percent), cereal/granola/breakfast bars (35 percent) and hot beverages (28 percent),” Cox notes.
The survey also revealed very high levels of understanding of the benefits of probiotics. Around eight in ten (79 percent) of the US consumers surveyed perceived them to provide digestive health benefits. In the UK, 72 percent of consumers who were aware of cultures – a term sometimes used to describe probiotics – were able to correctly identify their benefits for digestive health. “In other words, consumers across the world have not only heard of probiotics, but also understand the benefits they provide,” Cox highlights.
Probiotics become more versatile
The other big development has been the increasing versatility of probiotics, driven by the emergence of Bacillus coagulans strains like GanedenBC30, Cox adds. These hardy, spore-forming bacteria have a structure that is more highly resistant to extremes of pH, heat, cold and pressure than vegetative cells, making them a great fit for the fortification of everyday foods. They have made it possible to innovate with probiotics in categories ranging from teas and coffees, to muffins, pizza and peanut butter, Cox says.
As far as synergies go, he explains that prebiotics and probiotics are very different ingredients with very different functions and benefits. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the gut – they might be considered a food source for the beneficial bacteria already living there. Probiotics, by contrast, are live microorganisms which, when taken in adequate amounts, offer a health benefit.
Some probiotic strains may need a prebiotic to enhance effects, but others can perform without them. A strain like GanedenBC30, for example, does not need to be combined with a prebiotic to have beneficial effects, Cox supports.
“We are committed to driving forward probiotic innovation through high-quality scientific research. GanedenBC30 is backed by over 25 studies demonstrating its health benefits, which is a huge advantage in a market where consumers are often skeptical about the claims made for functional products,” he underscores.
“Many of these studies have provided evidence of benefits beyond digestive health. For example, a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that GanedenBC30 has a positive effect on upper respiratory tract infection symptoms in children,” Cox concludes.
By Kristiana Lalou
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