Roughly a quarter of U.S. adults specially seek out foods and beverages with high amounts of probiotics or prebiotics. That finding comes from a 2017 National Consumer Survey conducted by market research firm Packaged Facts, published in the company’s new report “Probiotics and Prebiotics: Food and Beverage New Product Trends.”
With the increased focus on their potential in recent years, probiotics have emerged as one of the biggest trends today in the food and beverage industry, says Packaged Facts. These products range from the familiar (i.e., yogurt, kefir, kombucha and infant nutrition) to the cutting edge (probiotics in soda, coffee, tea, soups and even beer). But regardless of their mainstream status or lack thereof, probiotic and prebiotic products are inherently associated with wellness trends. These products intertwine themselves with a multitude of other nutritional trends and functional areas, ranging from ancient grains to sports nutrition, further splintering the overall probiotic and prebiotic fortification trend.
“Probiotics have emerged as a driving trend in the industry,” says David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts research director. “And given the core importance of gut health, this suggests continued potential for growth of probiotic- and prebiotic-containing foods, as consumers continue to learn more about them and next-generation products make their case in the market.”
Among probiotic and prebiotic proponents, Millennials ages 18-34 have relatively higher interest in probiotic foods and beverages compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, a revelation keeping with the elevated interest in functional foods generally among Millennials. Packaged Facts forecasts continued positive momentum for probiotic and prebiotics products, thanks in part to their acceptance by this young yet influential consumer segment.
Beyond Millennials, Packaged Facts’ survey found that there’s even higher interest in probiotics among those who shop for food in the natural channel, which retains its role as the most significant retail sector for food and nutritional trends.
The report covers the current and future potential for probiotics in the packaged food and beverage industry, analyzing market activity and potential by functionality and product type. Product activity is classified into three stages of innovation: Stage 1—Cutting Edge; Stage 2—Taking Root; and Stage 3—Going Mainstream.
Most of the product types discussed in Probiotics and Prebiotics: Food and Beverage New Product Trends are labeled as cutting edge, and many of these lack the sales track record to designate them as trends. Nonetheless, fortification with probiotics has emerged as a hotbed of innovation, often combined with other nutritional trends and superfood ingredients, says the firm.