Prebiotic power in 2023


Why will prebiotics continue captivating health-conscious consumers?

Photo ©

Photo ©

Reflecting on the evolving health needs of consumers in the nutraceuticals and supplements market, it’s important to understand why certain ingredients prove a hit with consumers. From supplements through to functional or fortified foods, when we talk about nutritional health products, it’s important to remember that the market is just as susceptible to consumer trends and behaviors as other, perhaps more traditionally “retail-facing” products such as FMCG and consumer goods. It’s a reflection of the nutraceutical and mainstream food markets becoming ever more closely linked.

Within the health market, the prebiotic category is clearly a shooting star, rapidly climbing in focus among formulators and product developers as they explore what the future of health supplements looks like. It’s no secret that across multiple commercial markets still feeling the knock-on effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic, strong growth is hard to come by—and yet prebiotics are projected to see a compound annual growth rate of almost 15%, according to intelligence firm Grand View Research.

Dr. Frederic Narbel

Dr. Frederic Narbel

So, what’s powering this worldwide prebiotic growth? Understanding the driving factors is key to unlocking the potential of prebiotics and formulating for commercial success.

Rapidly Growing Gut Health Awareness

On the whole, we have changed as a global health population. Consumers are getting more hands-on with overall health and are building a stronger foundation of knowledge. Essentially, health audiences are making the switch from latent to proactive behaviors and are actively seeking opportunities to learn.

Digestive health science is, of course, absolutely central to learning more about bodily health. An ever-increasing number of consumers is making the link between gut health and physical wellbeing, understanding that the bacteria comprising the gut microbiome don’t just support gastrointestinal health; their influence is much wider-reaching.

It’s important to note that as awareness of gut health climbs, there are a number of organizations on the scene that are helping spread the key messages on every level, from formulator to patient and consumer. Great examples include the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), an organization that champions awareness of the latest category science; and the Global Prebiotic Association (GPA), an industry body that promotes key prebiotic learning opportunities to consumers, healthcare professionals, and formulators.

Focus on Gut-Immune Interplay

As the dust from the pandemic continues to settle, it’s clear that consumers continue to prioritize their immune health, learning more about how it works and the many ways in which it can be supported, including through lifestyle changes and dietary approaches such as the use of multivitamin and mineral supplements.

Growing immune health focus is also lifting the digestive health category. When we think immunity, we often think in terms of white blood cells attacking pathogens, or about colds and flus as the body tries to flush out potential invaders. However, what is not yet widespread knowledge is that around 70% of the immune system resides in the gut. A growing portfolio of studies shows that maintaining an optimal gut microbiome, with plentiful beneficial bacteria, has a key role to play in keeping the body functioning at its best.

As the market moves forward, we expect to see continued acceleration in immune health products that support better gut health by nourishing “good” gut bacteria, which is precisely where prebiotic ingredients come into the formulation conversation.

Expanding Boundaries

Although the prebiotic category is a lot newer than many functional ingredient categories, we are already seeing prebiotics make the transition from niche to mainstream. Important conversations are taking place in media concerning the gut microbiome and the many important health-promoting benefits of good gut bacteria.

As the category continues to expand, new opportunities in formulation present themselves. Brands of every size are exploring prebiotics in their product development, and we are seeing the category’s limit pushed ever further. Examples include prebiotic cereals hitting mainstream retail and prebiotic beverages finding a market foothold.

Naturally, as the science behind the prebiotic category continues to evolve, there is additional movement in terms of global regulations. Prebiotics are now privy to an expansive range of health claims, which further helps product formulators meet the rising demand for security, trust, and transparency.

In summary, the prebiotic category is lining up for another year of strong growth, and the driving forces behind it are a blend of consumer-led trends and formulator benefits. Formulators are tapping into a wealth of converging consumer trends with big commercial potential on the table. In addition, class-leading science isn’t enough on its own; it needs to be relevant to the needs of the market and translatable into a strong commercial proposition for formulators. Prebiotic-led products that connect with the demands of today’s shopper don’t need to be difficult; they can be made simple. Prebiotics represent a strong commercial proposition for formulators, and the time is right for brand owners to take advantage of this impressive growth.

About the Author

Dr. Frederic Narbel is vice president of B2B Sales at Clasado Biosciences (UK), supporting the global expansion of the business and championing the inclusion of prebiotics in health and nutrition formulation.

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