Vegan Probiotics: Beyond the Health Benefits

Halo Top ice cream will soon be offering vegan, dairy-free versions of its most popular flavors.

The company made a name for itself in functional foods earlier this year by becoming the best-selling ice cream pint in the country. Companies in the functional foods market niche are leveraging consumer trends to gain brand traction, particularly the demand for nondairy probiotics. 

Probiotics Meet Nondairy Demand 

Probiotics are getting increased focus as functional ingredients, now one of the food & beverage industry's biggest trends. Marketers emphasize probiotic content because of the digestive health benefits popularly associated with probiotics, even though medical research is often inconclusive.

Individual strains of probiotics may support claims in published literature about specific functional health benefits, but it can't be said that probiotics promote general digestive wellness. Marketers often go one step further when formulating probiotic products by making their formulations vegan, which combine functionality with an ingredient avoidance appeal. 

Yogurt is the traditional probiotic dietary source, which means vegan probiotics have the chance to connect with animal-free consumers who many crave high-protein products. Dairy-free consumers, although not necessarily vegan, also are likely to connect with vegan probiotics, because these products are by definition dairy-free.

Various companies are targeting the growing nondairy sector - which includes soy drinks, fruit-based foods, and cereal-based products - by combining traditional flavors with vegan probiotic strains, covered in Packaged Facts' newest report, Probiotics and Prebiotics: Food and Beverage New Product Trends.

Vegan ingredient formulations for probiotics foods connect with a niche within the functional foods space and have found a growing consumer base. In the last few years: 

  • 12% of adults overall purchased vegan-labeled packaged food in the last 30 days
  • 21%  of adults said they were eating more vegetarian protein sources
  • 26%  said they were consuming more "plant-milks" (almond, coconut,

Product Profiles: Vegan Probiotics

Cold Brew Coffee:   Brooklyn-based JÙS by Julie produces its 'Probiotic Cold Brew'  coffee, which combines America's favorite breakfast drink with the probiotic content often associated with eating yogurt for breakfast. 

The Brooklyn-based company offers a cold-brew coffee in regular and vanilla flavors with vegan probiotics to support immune and digestive health. 

Probiotic Juices: Juice producers are fortifying their products with functional ingredients (such as calcium, in part to compete against milk) to get consumers to take a fresh look at juice products despite concerns over sugar content. On this list of functional add-on ingredients are probiotics. 

Suja, a high pressure-processed juice company invested in by the Coca-Cola Co., offers probiotic-fortified products including vegan probiotics. Its 'Daybreak Probiotic' also contains vegan probiotics, along with water, maple syrup, lemon, and cayenne. 

Veteran juice brands, such as PepsciCo's Tropicana and Naked, are getting in on the probiotic action as well, incorporating live and active cultures in 8 oz. servings. 

Waters and Coconut Waters: Bottled water's naturally healthy halo and its place in the refrigerated case, like yogurt, makes it a logical delivery device for probiotics. 

To sidestep the shelf-stable limitations of active probiotic ingredients, Karma Culture offers its Karma Wellness water and other probiotic-fortified drinks with special packaging. 

Immediately before drinking these products, consumers push down on the cap, which releases probiotics into the water, and then shake the bottle to mix.