Probiotic use on the rise, survey shows

The findings suggest demand for probiotics is linked to increasing interest in digestive health

Demand for probiotics is growing as digestive health moves up the consumer agenda, a survey from probiotics manufacturer Kerry has indicated.

One in four consumers had used a product containing probiotics over the past six months, the research showed, up from 21% in 2019. A further 44% would consider doing so, up from 40% in 2019. Usage was particularly high in China, where almost half of respondents had used a product containing probiotics over the past six months, followed by Mexico at 42%.

The company surveyed more than 13000 consumers across 16 countries. Nearly half, at 47%, were aware of probiotics or cultures. Awareness was higher than average in Latin America (63%) and North America (61%).

The findings suggest demand for probiotics is linked to increasing interest in digestive health, which consumers ranked third on their list of reasons to purchase healthy lifestyle products. Nearly four in ten of survey respondents globally had used some form of digestive health product over the past six months, almost as many as the 39% who had used an immune health product.

John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio – ProActive Health, said: “A range of factors have driven the continuing growth in demand for gut health solutions generally, and for probiotics in particular. Demographic changes such as population aging and lifestyle choices have increased the prevalence of digestive disorders, while the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards more proactive approaches to health.

As a result, consumers want to see functional ingredients in their favourite food and beverage products, and they’re increasingly well educated about the role of probiotics and their ability to support both digestive health and overall wellness. Manufacturers who formulate functional foods and beverages using science-backed probiotic strains can therefore meet a range of market needs.”

The survey shows that foods and beverages commonly consumed at breakfast time are the most closely associated with digestive health. For example, four in ten respondents said they would be interested in purchasing yogurts containing ingredients with digestive health benefits, while 31% said they would be interested in juices with these benefits.

Part of Kerry’s ProActive Health portfolio, BC30, or Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086, is a patented, spore-forming probiotic ingredient which can be used in a functional food and beverage products. More than 25 published papers have shown that it can help support digestive health, immune health and protein absorption, the company says.

The survey suggests that these benefits are recognised by consumers. Respondents were shown the BC30 logo and an image of products in which it can be found. When asked which benefits they perceived BC30 to deliver, 45% globally chose digestive health and 45% chose immune support. After being given more information about BC30, 80% found its communicated benefits to be believable.

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