Kerry survey highlights growing interest in probiotics

Demand for probiotics is growing as digestive health moves up the consumer agenda, according to a survey conducted by Irish taste and nutrition company Kerry. The company surveyed 13,000+ consumers across 16 countries. Almost half (47%) of those questioned were aware of probiotics or cultures, up from 42% in 2019 when the survey was last conducted. Awareness was particularly high in Latin America (63%) and North America (61%). One in four respondents (25%) had used a product containing probiotics in the past six months, up from 21% in 2019; a further 44% said they would consider doing so vs 40% in 2019. Probiotic use in the past six months was especially high in China (49% of respondents), followed by Mexico (42%). Digestive Health was ranked third on the list of reasons to purchase healthy lifestyle products, up from fourth in 2019.

Writing in CHC.Newsflash, Nicholas Hall said this story is a welcome reminder that probiotics remains one of the most attractive categories in consumer healthcare, despite flat sales during Covid. As Kerry VP John Quilter points out: “Demographic changes, such as population ageing 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 [are] increasingly well educated about the role of probiotics and their ability to support both digestive health and overall wellness.”

Nicholas commented further: “Our industry is receiving this message loud and clear, to judge by the large number of probiotic new products. Indeed, it’s highly instructive to look at the very large number of new CHC products launched in 2020 as measured by our Tracker. There were three standout categories: probiotics, CBD and – no surprises – immune supplements. These categories recorded around 250-300 launches each, substantially ahead of multivitamins, antiseptics & disinfectants and sedatives & sleep aids. The impact of Covid is written all over this data, but despite the disruption in purchasing habits, marketer perception of unmet consumer demand is clear, with probiotics and CBD very much front of mind.

As I’ve written before, I see probiotics as a three-stage process: entry level, using well-known strains with a gut-health positioning; first stage development, embracing new indications such as immunity and women’s health, but still using existing strains and combinations; and the far stage, with exciting new indications including metabolic reconditioning, and completely new strains. At present we are about a third of the way into the second stage, with lots of new probiotics coming to market. But what we lack is clinical evidence with large sample sizes from research centres with unimpeachable credentials, sufficient to persuade, for example, the Doubting Dr Thomases at the European Food Standards Authority to allow claims or even the use of the word “probiotic” on packaging. With a number of heavy hitters from the supply chain – such as Kerry – being attracted to probiotics, I’m confident that we are only a few years away from the Promised Land.

Take the opportunity to save up to GB£2,100 when you pre-order our forthcoming Immunity hot topic report before 31 August! This essential report will review a number of categories including antivirals, immune supplements and vitamins C & D, and explores the latest launch activity, plus much more. To pre-order your copy with the pre-publication discount, or to find out more, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

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