The latest research developments also drive interest in probiotics and improved health as new findings support the use of probiotics in treating a variety of disorders. Studies that link the use of probiotics to healthy digestive and immune systems are helping to create interest in the category. "We have seen several new probiotic launches recently appealing to specific conditions or groups of consumers such as immune support, women's health, and children's immunity," stated Laura Mahecha, Kline's Healthcare Industry manager.
Moreover, the way these products are delivered has changed dramatically. While most probiotics on the market are still available in tablet or caplet forms, new delivery systems, such as drinks, sodas, chews, cubes, liquids, gummies, fizzy powders, and prefilled straws, are becoming more popular and attracting new users to the category.
The three digestive health market segments covered in the study are digestive enzymes, probiotics, and probiotic beverages. Probiotic beverages, which includes drinks, juices, shakes, and select kefirs and kombuchas, are the second largest category and fastest-growing category, driven by consumers' interest in probiotics and the desire for healthy drinks. Probiotic beverages offer consumers a convenient and fun way to take probiotics.
Probiotics, including combined probiotics with prebiotics, is the largest category and experiences strong growth fueled by a strong consumer interest due to supporting research studies, new product innovation, and increased advertising. In addition, companies such as The Clorox Company and Royal DSM are increasing distribution of their respective brands being sold in the food, drug, and mass merchandiser retail outlets. Royal DSM, with its digestive health brands Culturelle and UP4 A Happier Inside, acquired in 2016, holds a significant 13.5% market share across all channels.
The market for digestive health products is made up of many diffuse manufacturers. Some are small start-up organizations, such as Olly and Suja Life, others are small to medium sized companies, such as Church & Dwight and Lifeway Foods. Several probiotic lines are marketed by companies that have been acquired by large multinational companies and gain the support and resources of their new parent companies. Examples of such acquisitions include The Clorox Company's acquisition of Renew Life, The Pepsi Company's acquisition of KeVita, and Royal DSM's acquisition of UP4 A Happier Inside.