Boosting Immunity Through Digestion: The Relation Among Probiotics, Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes

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Published Oct 1, 2009 | 238 Pages | Pub ID: LA2286571

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Probiotic literally means “for life.” The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization defines probiotics as “live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.” Prebiotics are nondigestible carbohydrates that feed beneficial bacteria already residing in the digestive system and also provide fiber (bulk), an aid to good digestion. Prebiotics are found in a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and in certain other products, such as yogurt containing the probiotic Bifidobacteria.

The interest in foods and beverages that enhance digestive health is increasing worldwide, especially in developed countries. People in many third world countries have routinely consumed foods containing probiotics and/or prebiotics for centuries. Fermented foods are the primary source of naturally occurring probiotic bacteria, and such foods are a traditional part of most indigenous diets. This is because their health benefits were identified thousands of years ago. Developed countries have moved away from these vital foods, to greater or lesser degrees, and the health of people in these areas has suffered as a result.

In the past few years, there has been a growing awareness among consumers globally of the connection between digestive health and immunity. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract is now recognized as a very active immune center. Indeed, the GI tract contains more than 80% of the body’s antibody-producing cells. Importantly, the digestive tract comprises an entirely separate immune system, which was not fully appreciated until recently. The GI system confers an immunity different from the immune functions elsewhere in the body and is considered the largest of the lymph organs — larger than the thymus and all the other lymph nodes scattered throughout our systems.

Aging populations and infants are the obvious groups that can benefit from digestive- and immunity-focused products, but awareness of the extensive and lifelong benefits of consuming foods for digestive health has the attention of people of all ages.

The most well-known foods that are beneficial to the GI tract are yogurt and high-fiber products. The probiotics market has recently begun to move beyond yogurt to deliver probiotics in an increasing variety of foods and beverages. Prebiotics are being added to an expanding array of products, from pudding to frozen chicken dinners. The probiotic category is more established than prebiotics in the digestive health market, but the prebiotics sector is the faster growing of the two. An adjunct category—and a new frontier for food and beverage manufacturers—is digestive enzymes. Many food and beverage products are ideal candidates for the addition of digestive enzymes.

There are two major trends contributing to the growth of foods and beverages that enhance digestive health—increasing numbers of categories of these products in which probiotics and prebiotics are included, and a growing public awareness of and desire to benefit digestive health and thereby enhance immunity.

In 2008, 232 products were introduced worldwide that contained probiotic and/or prebiotic ingredient(s). As of June 30, 2009, 139 products with a probiotic or prebiotic ingredient listed were introduced to the global market. Japan, which has had the Yakult probiotic drink on the market since the 1950s, remains the number one country for probiotic and prebiotic launches, but launches in the U.S. are gaining significant momentum. The non-alcoholic beverage category is gaining importance in the growth of digestive health products, especially as prebiotic innovation intensifies. The dairy food market is well established as the primary avenue for probiotics and prebiotics, and the maturity of this sector increases the challenge for new products to differentiate when entering this market. Innovation in the area of high-fiber products is strong, with manufacturers adding new flavors to products and incorporating fiber and whole grains into new formats.

Challenges to the market include consumer confusion and skepticism about digestive health products, as well as balancing health benefits with an appetizing product. Gaining clarity about the numerous strains of probiotics, and the health benefits of each, is daunting to consumers. Gaining consumer confidence is a major issue in the long-term profitability of digestive- and immunity-enhancing functional food and beverages. Surveys show that although consumers are making active attempts to eat healthier, they are generally not willing to do so by compromising sensory benefits.

Digestive Health, Immunity and Probiotics: Trends in the Worldwide Food and Beverage Markets, contains comprehensive data on the global market for foods and beverages containing probiotics and/or prebiotics. The report focuses on the main drivers of this market—1) expanding numbers of categories and products available in this market and 2) increasing consumer awareness and concern about the importance of digestive health as it affects immunity and a concomitant desire to purchase products that address this concern. More importantly, the report provides insight into current product and technology innovations in this sector as well as strategies to bring to consumers not only awareness of the role of probiotics and prebiotics in digestive health but the vital role these ingredients play in overall wellness. Opportunities for the addition of digestive enzymes to foods and beverages are also explored. Historical retail sales data (2003-2008) and forecast data (2009-2014) are provided for the global and selected international markets (U.S., Europe, Japan, Rest of World). The report discusses key trends affecting the marketplace, trends driving growth and consumer demographics, and innovations that are changing and challenging the marketplace environment. The report profiles major marketers of digestive health products containing probiotics and/or prebiotics and suppliers of probiotics and prebiotics as well as innovative companies in both of these sectors.

Read an excerpt from this report below.

Report Methodology

The information in this report was obtained from both primary and secondary research. Primary research entailed in-depth, on-site examinations of supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, health/natural foods stores, specialty stores, and club stores. Company, distributor, and retailer interviews were conducted to obtain information on new product and packaging trends, marketing programs, distribution methods, and technological breakthroughs. Secondary research entailed data gathering from relevant sources. Included were consumer and industry publications, newspapers, government reports, financial reports, company literature, and corporate annual reports.

The information in this report was obtained from both primary and secondary research. Primary research entailed in-depth, on-site examinations of supermarkets, drug stores, mass merchandisers, convenience stores, health/natural foods stores, specialty stores, and club stores. Company, distributor, and retailer interviews were conducted to obtain information on new product and packaging trends, marketing programs, distribution methods, and technological breakthroughs.

An exclusive feature of Boosting Immunity Through Digestion: The Relation Among Probiotics, Prebiotics and Enzymes is custom survey data from Packaged Facts’ February 2009 online poll of 2,600 U.S. adults, which was conducted to measure purchasing patterns, attitudes and demographics specific to functional foods and beverages. Drilling down to the marketer and brand level, the analysis also relies on consumer survey data from Experian Simmons’ Fall 2008 National Consumer Study.

Secondary research included canvassing company web sites, consumer and industry publications, the Food and Agriculture (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO), The International Probiotics Association, International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, Probiotics Council of the National Yogurt Association, newspapers, government reports, financial reports, company literature, and corporate annual reports.

Overall market data is for the retail industry. No foodservice sales are included.

About the Author

Lynn Gray has been writing market research reports since 1989 and has completed approximately 70 reports during that time. She began with Market Research Intelligence Company (now Frost & Sullivan Market Research), then wrote for FIND/SVP (now Guideline), Biomedical Business International, and Business Communications Company (BCC Research). In addition to her work on syndicated market research reports, Ms. Gray worked in medical, biological and biochemical laboratories at Children's Hospital in San Francisco; the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard University and Harvard Medical School for 10 years.

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