An estimated 60 to 70 million people are affected by digestive-related disorders in the U.S., according to data from the National Institutes of Health. Once considered taboo to discuss, the conversation about gut and digestive health has been destigmatized thanks in part to understanding of the microbiome and how certain bacteria influence well-being. This knowledge is opening new paths for research and product development.
An aging population has been a principal driver for awareness about gut and digestive health, according to Sam Wright IV, CEO of The Wright Group, Lafayette, LA. “Digestive problems become more frequent among older consumers, and there is a desire to use natural approaches rather than harsh laxatives and other pharmaceutical measures. A major factor in the success of this category across product formats is the fact that a consumer can feel the benefit.”
Research conducted in the last 20 years has also influenced understanding within the healthcare community about how digestive health affects other aspects of wellness, said Shaheen Majeed, worldwide president, Sabinsa, East Windsor, NJ, “Several studies have produced convincing data to demonstrate that maintaining optimal digestive health is essential to overall health and stronger immunity. Accordingly, rising consumer understanding of the influence of gut health on overall wellness, as well as demographic changes, is driving awareness of benefits for probiotics and enzymes.”
Poor digestion can wreak havoc on the body, he added. “It may have a range of implications for one’s body and mind—from poor nutrition absorption to stomach pain, and from poor sleep quality to the compromised immune system, and even mood and concentration.”
According to Jon Peters, president, BENEO Inc., Parsippany, NJ, digestive wellness has become more popular as consumers have gained awareness about the value of fiber. He noted that New Nutrition Business predicted digestive wellness to be the top key trend in food, nutrition, and health for 2018. Significant drivers have been scientific and product development as well as media attention.
“The relationship between the intestinal microbiota and human health has received a great deal of scientific attention,” said Mr. Peters. “Emerging science suggests that the composition of the colonic microbiota has important implications—beyond the colon—for various body functions and overall health. A healthy microbiota supports gut barrier function and protects the body from pathogenic microorganisms. A major part of the human immune system is located in the intestine and closely linked with gut bacteria.”
With today’s busy lifestyles it can be challenging to maintain digestive balance, noted Mark Thurston, president at AIDP, City of Industry, CA. As a result, consumers are increasingly seeking natural, safe, and convenient solutions. “Thanks to ongoing research and awareness-building efforts directed to both healthcare practitioners and consumers, the understanding of the importance of gut/digestive health as the key to overall human health is booming.”
Gut health has been linked to many conditions, including cognitive health, autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions, he added. “The entire immune system is directly linked to the digestive system. As Hippocrates said, ‘all disease begins in the gut.’ There is a scramble to get on the gut health bandwagon. In the natural space, this means looking at non-prescription alternatives to helping with conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, chronic constipation, and more.”
Considered a taboo subject not long ago, an honest conversation about gut health has given consumers more information about how diet and nutrition influence digestive wellness. The market has grown at the same time, giving consumers access to new products, Mr. Thurston added.
There is a growing understanding and recognition that nutrition and dietary supplements can play a critical role in healthy metabolic activity, which in turn impacts overall health, noted Andrew Downey, marketing manager, Xsto Solutions, Morristown NJ. “Traditional medicine doesn’t have a lot of cause-and-effect solutions for issues like leaky gut, reflux, IBS, and Crohn’s. Fortunately, people now understand that digestive health involves a ‘biome,’ or complex system of interdependence. You don’t change one thing without having an effect on something else.”
Overall, digestive health products have enjoyed growing awareness and strong sales for more than a decade, said Mr. Downey, and yet opportunities for growth still persist. “There is still a lot of runway for digestive health products.”
Sandra Saville, chief nutrition officer, Prenexus Health, Brawley, CA, also acknowledged that more healthcare professionals understand a healthy digestive tract has implications beyond the gut, including the brain, skin, heart, kidneys, and liver. “The message that we need to ‘feed ourselves and feed our microbiome for health,’ has boosted interest from food, beverage, and supplement companies to include prebiotics in their formulations to provide these health benefits to consumers. Consumers are increasingly aware that they can impact their digestive and overall health by consuming prebiotics, and are seeking products containing these ingredients.”
Understanding of the microbiome has grown markedly in recent years, according to Taylor Halstead, product manager for specialty carbohydrates, Cargill, Minneapolis, MN. “A growing body of research supports the idea that millions of microorganisms not only live in our gut, but are critical to our digestive health. In fact, emerging research now indicates that prebiotics not only contribute to microbiome balance and digestive health, they also offer other health benefits in their own right, from boosting calcium absorption for support of healthy bones to maintaining healthy blood glucose levels.”
Consumer views on digestive health are expanding too, he added, and fiber is still important. According to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2016 Food & Health Survey, 60% of Americans try to consume more fiber. The same survey found consumers are beginning to recognize the value of pro- and prebiotics as well. “A third of Americans said they were trying to consume probiotics and 10% were working to add prebiotics to their diets,” said Mr. Halstead. “Consumers’ understanding of the role of probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive health may still be in its infancy, but the idea dovetails with desires for more natural approaches to overall well-being. This approach to health fits the spirit of many of the broad consumer trends we see in food and beverage products: natural, non-GMO, and clean label.”
Ultimately, digestion can be a pathway to good or poor health, noted Tod Burgess, vice president of sales, Deerland Enzymes & Probiotics, Kennesaw, GA. “If the process is insufficient, nutrients remain unabsorbed, causing a range of health vulnerabilities. Fast-paced lifestyles featuring meals eaten on the run (and gobbled quickly), poor diet choices, and stressors combine to reduce digestive function, causing discomfort and insufficient bowel evacuation. American adults who deal with these issues are turning to supplements and natural remedies in droves.”
Research over the past two decades has revealed that gut health is critical to overall wellness and immunity, and that an unhealthy gut contributes to a wide range of health challenges, he added. “We’ve seen the evidence of this from our own research, through clinical studies on our enzymes and probiotics. Overall and collectively, our studies have shown that numerous health issues beyond digestive discomfort (e.g., headaches) can be reduced when digestion itself is optimized.”
As microbiome research progresses, Mr. Burgess said a more complete picture of exactly how the billions of organisms of the microbiome interact and respond to changes in diet and supplementation will develop. “When we’re able to profile the microbial population of a healthy individual and compare it to that of someone with a specific health condition, opportunities to influence the shifting of bacterial population through diet and supplementation will continue to emerge. Probiotics, prebiotics, and other ingredients that influence the gut microbiome will be key players in formulations for a wide variety of health conditions.”
Trust in Probiotics
With a quarter of U.S. consumers reporting digestive health issues on an almost daily basis, according to 2017 research from Innova Market Insights, gut health is top of mind for many people, said Michael Bush, executive director at Kerry for Wellmune and GanedenBC30. “As evidence that the market is responding to this, the number of food and beverage products launched globally with a digestive health related claim registered a CAGR of 25% between 2012 and 2016,” he said, citing Innova data from 2017.
Overall, the market for digestive health products was up 20% from 2015 to 2016, according to a report from Kline & Company, Parsippany, NJ, titled “Digestive Health, Immunity, and Probiotics: U.S. Market Analysis and Opportunities,” (September of 2017), and research continues to drive interest in probiotics.
“Probiotics appear to be helpful in treating diarrhea, especially following treatment with certain antibiotics; treating IBS; and speeding treatment of some intestinal infections,” noted Laura Mahecha, industry manager, healthcare, Kline & Company. “Some studies support the use of probiotics for the treatment of constipation and lactose intolerance. Research has also explored the link between probiotics and women’s issues such as reducing the incidence of urinary tract infection (UTI) and vaginal infections. As a result, probiotics targeted at women’s health have proliferated.”
Greater awareness about the benefits of probiotics is fueling growth, said Mr. Bush, “and it continues to be a real success story.” In fact, the global probiotics market is projected to grow to $64 billion at a CAGR of 7% between the end of 2017 and 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets (2017).
“With the multitude of probiotic strains available, manufacturers are sorting through options to choose science-backed ingredients that are well-positioned and can be efficiently formulated into ‘better for you’ versions of everyday foods and beverages,” said Mr. Bush. “The ingredients that win out are well-studied, branded probiotics that easily convey a benefit-driven story consumers can understand and trust. A strong branded functional ingredient should be backed by documented safety, efficacy, and quality. GanedenBC30 is a very well researched, branded probiotic with documented digestive health benefits.”
While appreciation about the benefits of probiotics for gut health is growing, there are still some misconceptions, Mr. Bush added, namely that all probiotic strains are the same. “In fact, each one is unique,” he said. “As a result, you can’t take the positive findings of one study looking at a particular strain and its impact on gut health and use it to substantiate the digestive health benefits of another. Probiotic strains each possess their own, distinct characteristics. These properties may influence safety, efficacy, and their suitability for certain applications.”
As probiotics become more prevalent in the gut health market, it’s vital for food manufacturers to understand there are often nuanced, but important differences between strains, he continued. “In practice, this means that when selecting or recommending a probiotic, it’s important to look at the research supporting that strain specifically. Because of this, investment in research continues to be a priority and, over the years, we have dedicated our resources to researching the benefits of GanedenBC30.”
Products fortified with probiotics—as well as prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and fibers—are receiving their due attention from consumers in search of natural alternatives to improve their gut and digestive health, said Mr. Majeed. Sabinsa’s LactoSpore is a clinically-validated, shelf-stable, probiotic ingredient containing L-(+)-lactic acid producing bacteria Bacillus coagulans MTCC 5856. LactoSpore was found to be beneficial in alleviating symptoms of diarrhea-predominant IBS when given as a dietary supplement in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in addition to standard treatment for a period of 90 days (Nutrition Journal, 2016).
According to Ms. Mahecha, there is growing awareness about the connection between probiotics and immunity. “Studies show that bacteria found in probiotics assist in the maturation of immune cells and help reduce undesirable bacteria in the body. More probiotics with immune-boosting claims are entering the category. Research continues to drive interest in probiotics and improved health.”
Michael Petteruti, vice president, Gnosis USA Inc, Doylestown, PA, a subsidiary of Italy-based Gnosis S.p.A, said consumer recognition of probiotics is driving more brands to formulate with ingredients proven to perform. On the other hand, “there has been an increase in the number of probiotics available that have not been properly substantiated or validated for a clear benefit, which is causing confusion.”
Gnosis offers a probiotic strain, Saccharomyces boulardii, which is supported by research confirming its safety and performance in conditions ranging from IBS to traveler’s diarrhea, as well as immune response, he said.
Understanding about gut health has evolved considerably over time. The next frontier will be better understanding the microbiome and the possibility of identifying an individual’s microbial composition, and then development of tailored, therapeutic treatments, Mr. Petteruti suggested.
Probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria have been well studied, and the science supports benefits of these non-spore probiotic strains. “Since different strains offer specific benefits, our customers are increasingly seeking a multi-strain formulation of both non-spore and spore-forming probiotics,” said Mr. Burgess. Based on this demand, more science is emerging to support the benefits of spore-forming probiotic strains, such as Bacillus subtilis. Deerland has genome sequenced for safety, and clinically tested for efficacy DE111, a stable spore-forming strain of Bacillus subtilis that supports digestive health and works as a complement to many non-spore strains. “Three separate human clinical studies have been performed on DE111, showing its ability to control microbial populations, aid in digestion, maintain general health, and support regularity,” said Mr. Burgess.
Research has shown that common prebiotics can increase the benefits of probiotics; however, some fiber-based prebiotics may come along with several drawbacks, Mr. Burgess continued. “In response to the growing demand for prebiotics, Deerland’s research and development team introduced PreforPro, a unique prebiotic that is not fiber or starch based, is highly effective in small doses (15 mg) and does not exhibit any of the drawbacks of more commonly used prebiotics.
Decades ago, healthcare professionals recommended the public increase dietary fiber intake for digestive health. Since then, the message has basically remained the same, according to Ms. Saville from Prenexus: “to increase intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain products due to benefits from non-digestible compounds found in these foods. Researchers have identified healthy compounds within these foods, including oligosaccharides.”
Oligosaccharides are prebiotics that reach the colon and act as food for microbes in the intestine. “Prebiotics selectively feed the healthy bacteria within the intestine, providing specific health benefits,” said Ms. Saville. “Prebiotics also feed specific probiotic bacteria that consumers take as supplements. Prebiotics, though found in food, are usually not present at levels high enough to impart significant health benefits. Our ancestors consumed prebiotic-rich roots and tubers, and the Aztecs and Incas chewed on high fiber cane. For various reasons, prebiotic-rich crops and foods that our ancestors used to consume are now a lesser part of our diet, or have changed in composition.”
Eating refined, processed foods makes it difficult for consumers to obtain enough prebiotics from food sources. Thus, fortification is increasingly important, she added. “Researchers have identified numerous health benefits from prebiotic consumption arising from increased levels of beneficial bacteria in the intestine, including: improved digestive health, improved immune function, reduced inflammation, improved serum lipids and blood glucose, increased absorption of certain minerals (e.g., calcium, magnesium), and reduced levels of toxic bacterial metabolites and pathogens.”
Like probiotics, researchers have demonstrated that prebiotics are not all the same. “They vary in selectivity of which specific bacteria are fed. Some prebiotics like xylooligosaccharides (XOS) preferentially target the beneficial bacteria, whereas some other prebiotics are more likely to feed unfriendly bacteria in addition to beneficial bacteria. Research has shown that the effective dose varies among prebiotics, ranging from 1.5 to 3 g/day for XOS, 10 to 20 g/day for inulin, and 30+ g/day for resistant starch, depending upon the health outcome.”
While prebiotics have been consumed for millennia, researchers have only recently begun to understand their specific role for health, said Ms. Saville. “Our first exposure to prebiotics is in mother’s breast milk, which contains human milk oligosaccharides that help to feed key bacteria and establish the baby’s developing microbiome. Prebiotics are beneficial for all ages, from young infants to the elderly, as they help to promote the beneficial bacteria in the intestine and deliver health benefits at all stages of life.”
Consumers are increasingly seeking products with a story, Ms. Saville added. “Prenexus Health sources AmpliVida XOS prebiotic from organically grown, high fiber cane grown in Southern California. The farmers are partners in the company. The prebiotic is extracted using clean water only, and dried into a powder that can be included in foods, beverages, and supplements.”
Fiber & Enzymes
Digestive and gut health is a vast area of science that researchers have really just started to explore, said BENEO’s Mr. Peters. “We already know much more than we did 10 years ago, yet it remains an intriguing area of exploration for both academia and consumers.”
In many cases, digestive health can be improved by increasing fiber intake, he noted. “In this respect, a mix of different fibers (i.e., fermentable and non-fermentable) is recommended. BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fibers are fully fermentable and have proven their efficacy in many high quality scientific studies. The mechanism that links the prebiotic fermentation of chicory root fibers and bowel regularity has been established. However, not all fermentable carbohydrates are prebiotics.”
A study published in the journal Gut (March, 2017) showed that BENEO’s prebiotic chicory root fiber, Orafti Inulin, induces selective changes in the composition of the gut’s microbiota that directly correlate with improved regularity and well-being. The study highlighted the selective effect of Orafti Inulin on the microbiota composition.
“The researchers used a highly sophisticated new technology known as ‘next generation sequencing’ to assess the impact of inulin fermentation on the human colonic bacterial ecosystem,” said Mr. Peters. “The results showed that inulin intake selectively changed three bacterial genera: Bifidobacterium, Anaerostipes, and Bilophila. It increased the relative abundance of Bifidobacterium and Anaerostipes, both known as ‘good’ bacteria, supporting a healthy microbiota. Bifidobacteria are known for producing vitamin B, antioxidants, and conjugated linoleic acids, as well as stimulating the immune system. Anaerostipes are known for butyrate production, which supports the gut mucosa. The selectivity of Orafti Inulin was further demonstrated through decreased levels of Bilophila, a potential pathogenic genus which is related to increased gas production. This decrease following inulin consumption was linked with both softer stools and improved constipation-related quality of life measures.”
Cargill’s Oliggo-Fiber, which may appear on ingredient statements as chicory root fiber, offers a label-friendly, non-GMO option to promote digestive health, according to Mr. Halstead. “Known as the ‘invisible fiber,’ Oliggo-Fiber chicory root fiber is a soluble fiber that can be used by beverage makers without affecting the taste or texture of the final product. This allows beverage manufacturers to incorporate chicory root fiber into a wide array of applications.”
Studies have shown that 5 grams of chicory root fiber per day can help feed normal beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut, he added. “As a prebiotic, it enhances the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species. Consuming 5 grams of chicory root fiber per day stimulates the microflora in the digestive tract, helping to maintain a neutral balance.”
Mr. Halstead also noted that consumers are looking to reduce sugar intake. Chicory root fiber also provides key functional properties valuable in reduced-sugar applications, he noted. “Mildly sweet in its own right, chicory root fiber can help modulate the flavor of some high-intensity sweeteners. Additionally, it acts as a bulking agent when removing sugar from a formulation.”
It also aligns with today’s clean label trends, he said. “Across the food and beverage industry, there’s a big push to simplify ingredient lists. Today’s consumers want to recognize the ingredients in their food and beverages and know where those ingredients come from.”
Alongside fiber, enzymes can help target digestive issues. The role of digestive enzymes is to break down food-derived fats, carbohydrates, and proteins into smaller substances that the body can use, said Mr. Burgess. “Although the body produces its own digestive enzymes, it may not be enough to completely break down cooked or processed foods. During cooking and processing, the natural enzymes present in raw foods are denatured. Fortunately, digestive enzymes can help to optimize the digestion process. The complete release and absorption of food nutrients can result in fewer digestive problems.”
As an increasing number of Americans are turning to vegetarianism and veganism, they are missing a key enzyme that the human body doesn’t produce, cellulose, which is needed to break down plant cell walls to release nutrients into the body, Mr. Burgess explained.
“Also, more people are experiencing issues digesting certain foods and regretfully stay away from them. Dairy products are one such category. However, contrary to popular belief, not everyone with dairy-induced digestive issues is lactose-intolerant. Instead, in many people, digestive discomfort is often attributed to their immune response to proteins in dairy, not intolerance of lactose. Our Dairylytic is an innovative blend of lactase and protease shown in studies to break down lactose and increase digestion and absorption of milk proteins that would aggravate the immune response, causing digestive disturbance.”
Gluten is another area of concern among consumers. “Gluten proteins are difficult to digest, and undigested gluten proteins signal the immune system to attack the inner lining of the small intestine, causing discomfort,” he added. “Our Glutalytic helps degrade gluten, making it easier to absorb. Another enzyme-robber is aging; the body’s rate of digestive enzyme production slows as people age, giving rise to indigestion and related issues. Therefore, enzyme supplements are attractive for the increasingly popular ‘healthy aging’ market.”
Products that focus on the gut microbiome are likely to become “the next big thing in digestive health,” according to Kline’s Ms. Mahecha. “The gut microbiome is made up of an ecosystem of organisms, such as bacteria, yeast, fungi, viruses, and protozoans, that live in each person’s gut. Increasing research suggests that certain mental health issues and brain diseases can be diagnosed by analyzing gut bacteria. These germs can have a huge influence on a person’s overall health, affecting everything from brain and mood to athleticism, immune function, inflammation, allergies, and weight and metabolism. There are numerous prebiotic products and probiotics on the market that claim to help the gut microbiome.” This segment is still small though, she added, “as research on the microbiome is nascent.”
Still, increased buzz about the microbiome has motivated educated consumers to pay attention to digestive issues, said Mr. Wright. From an immune-health standpoint, “The prevalence of C. difficile and MRSA in the hospital and nursing home setting as well as stories about antibiotic-resistant super-bacteria has been an additional motivating factor.” This knowledge has resulted in a “deluge” of new products based around specialty fibers, enzymes, and especially probiotics, he added.
Probiotic companies are increasingly seeking to include prebiotics in formulations, said Ms. Saville. “These combinations are called synbiotics. The prebiotics are added to enhance the effectiveness of the probiotics, but must be appropriately matched to the type of probiotic in order to deliver a true synbiotic benefit.”
Better understanding of how probiotics and prebiotics fit together, will open the door to more product development opportunities, added Mr. Halstead from Cargill. “We’re already seeing some innovative beverage makers bring new synbiotic products to market, which combine prebiotic fibers and probiotics. As the science advances, we expect this market will continue to grow.”
Mr. Majeed said Sabinsa’s Sanutra Colon Health Support Formula is a synbiotic formula comprised of Fenumannan, a fermentable, soluble fiber fraction as a prebiotic obtained from Fenugreek seeds and standardized to 60% galactomannan, as well as LactoSpore, as a probiotic component. “Together, they both work to confer digestive health benefits, such as promoting a healthy balance of intestinal flora and enhance immunity,” Mr. Majeed said. “It is also helpful in relieving occasional diarrhea and/or constipation.”
The company’s LactoCran is another synbiotic ingredient, he added. This is a combination of LactoSpore (as a probiotic) and cranberry seed powder (as a prebiotic, obtained from Fruit d’Or Nutraceuticals).
Recent research has also helped reveal the interplay between the microbiome and high antioxidant flavonoids, such as those in elderberry. “Some exciting research we’ve uncovered identifies a multifaceted relationship between polyphenols and gut microflora,” said Melanie Bush, chief science officer at Artemis International, Ft. Wayne, IN, supplier of flavonoid-rich Berryceutical ingredients. “Some polyphenols have been shown to modulate a healthy balance of friendly/healthy bacteria, and the microflora in the gut metabolize polyphenols into more bioavailable metabolites with immune-boosting and other benefits.”
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, offered a strong case for the relationship between flavonoid-rich foods, gut microbes, and immune efficacy. The presence of DAT (desaminotyrosine), a compound identified as being a metabolite in the gut after the consumption of key flavonoids present in elderberry, actually helps protect against damage from influenza (Science, 2017). Therefore, a healthy balance of gut microbiota as well as flavonoid-rich foods/supplements like elderberry appear to positively influence immune health.
Further, discoveries reveal that the health benefits one would get from combining flavonoids, such as those from elderberry, with probiotics would be greater than what could be achieved using each individually. “It’s a one-two punch of functionality that takes the popular categories of probiotics and antioxidants to a new multi-dimensional level,” said Ms. Bush.
This evidence is supported by a study that investigated the functional outcomes of incorporating antioxidant components into the human gut by measuring the impact of a prebiotic-probiotic-antioxidant blend on endotoxin levels in humans pre- and post-endurance sports, such as a triathlon (Nutrients, 2016). Results suggested a marked benefit.
“There is exciting and significant research being done on the microbiome and exactly how a healthy gut supports the immune system and overall human health,” said Ms. Bush.
AIDP’s PreticX XOS prebiotic has been shown in human clinical studies to selectively boost healthy Bifidobacteria while reducing unhealthy bacteria in the gut, said AIDP’s Mr. Thurston. “A major advantage of PreticX is its clinical effectiveness at low dosages.” AIDP is also launching a certified organic PreticX formula.
AIDP’s Livaux prebiotic is a whole kiwifruit ingredient shown to increase healthy Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (F. prau). “F. prau is the most abundant bacteria species in the gut, accounting for about 8% of the total colonic microbiota and is extremely important for production of short chain fatty acids in the gut, maintaining gut barrier function and reducing oxidative stress,” said Mr. Thurston. “Despite its importance, F. prau is sensitive to oxygen and cannot be obtained through supplemented probiotics.”
Considering some of the side effects of prescription and OTC drugs, it’s not surprising consumers are exploring innovative, natural options, said Xsto’s Mr. Downey. “Most prescription and OTC products are simply treating the short-term symptoms, whereas digestive health supplements address the underlying issue, providing better long-term health. For example, typical heartburn products reduce stomach acid for quick relief, which ultimately makes food harder to digest. On the other hand, our PepZinGI helps support the mucosal lining of the stomach, protecting the stomach lining from the necessary acid.”
A recent study on PepZinGI looked at leaky gut brought on by intense exercise in athletes, he added. “It also has data for occasional heartburn, acid indigestion, gas, and nausea. With over 20 human studies, PepZinGI has a history of efficacy and possesses NDI (New Dietary Ingredient) status in the U.S. It’s also kosher certified.”
Conventional delivery formats like capsules, tablets, and powders are still preferred by many consumers, according to Sabinsa’s Mr. Majeed. “However, several newer formats like gummies, chewables, meltable strips, liquid shots, effervescent tablets, stick packs, and other functional foods fortified with digestive ingredients are steadily climbing the popularity chart. Mostly, growing demand for these newer and innovative formats is a result of the combination of convenience, choice, and aesthetic preference of many consumers across a range of age groups.”
Also, older consumers often have difficulty swallowing tablets and capsules, said Mr. Wright. “Shots and sachets are growing in popularity. Stability and taste can be enhanced by utilizing microencapsulation techniques such as Wright’s SuperCoat line of stabilized ingredients.”
Consumers are always looking for new and better products, and there’s an inherent preference for smaller dose applications, said Xsto’s Mr. Downey. “For instance, an ingredient with a 300 mg dose stands to do better than an ingredient with a 2 or 3 gram dose. With that being said, it seems younger people are not as interested in capsules as they are in powders, chewable tablets, beverages, and gummies, especially if they taste good. While there is an appeal to add more functional ingredients to traditional food and beverages, there is also pushback on increasing prices. Large manufacturers often see functional ingredients as a way to differentiate their product and increase sales, but they lack the courage to capture that added value with higher retail prices.”
Mr. Bush said there doesn’t seem to be any end to the continued march of probiotics into arange of foods, beverages, and supplements. “Popularized by the dairy category (primarily yogurt), and while still a stronghold, non-dairy beverages and frozen foods, cookies, cereals, and baked goods are all seeing new entrants that highlight the presence of probiotics.”
Probiotic stability has led to manufacturing challenges that, in the past, may have stifled innovation, he added. GanedenBC30, a spore-forming probiotic strain, “has a protective shell that shields its genetic material from stomach acids as well as food-processing conditions like heat, shear, pressure, and freezing,” said Mr. Bush. “This unmatched level of durability makes it easier for manufacturers to integrate the probiotic into products.”