Today's hectic lifestyle is increasingly linked to digestive health issues. Numerous external influences including stress, travel, illness and antibiotic use may disrupt the intestinal microbiota and potentially leading to diarrhoea and discomfort. Therefore, the concept of probiotics has been embraced by Western consumers for decades and centuries in Middle East and Asia. Karin Nielson, director of ingredients division, Canadean, explains
However the industry is in a hen-egg scenario. Are consumers aware of the benefits? Or must we invest further?
Huge investments in clinical trials has not delivered the wanted on-pack health claims for the mature European market, and the last five years more than 100 clinical trials struggle to find the model that will convince the Authorial Expert Board.
Today's evidence on gut recovery after diarrhoea and other incidences affecting gut microbial homeostasis are undisputed. However, this addresses a more therapeutic than health promoting role for the normal healthy average consumer. Best evidence that may convince Authorities may been in the immunity weakened very old consumers, which also represents a significant market segment.
In Ireland the word probiotic is not "tolerated" anymore by the Food Safety Authorities, as probiotic by definition provide health and this is not an approved substantiated claim.
However the consumers still buy their yoghurts and probiotics tablets for travelling, and as the market continues to soar, probiotics are appearing in more innovative new products around the globe.
In the ingredient industry, we're very preoccupied these days with the semantics, but the good news is we have found at Canadean after screening approximately 10000 articles from news, blogs and social media is that this word is deeply rooted and cannot be eradicated overnight by legal experts.
By analysing 10000 articles, blogs and commentaries written by experts, wannabe experts and laymen's in the four main languages (English, Spanish, Mandarin and Hindi), we found that approx. 70% were originated in North America, 17% in Asia Pacific, 14% in Europe and merely 1% from Latin America. Ratings on sentiment showed that 62% were positive and 28% negative, so the state of the industry is not as bad as the industry may think.
Further scrutiny indicates that consumers have reached a stage of education, where they start looking at benefits by discussions of gut, infection and immunity, as well as strains. We found that Lactobacilli is the most positively discussed probiotics in all continents.
Findings like this raise reflections on the probiotics industry's overall strategies. Is more science necessary or do consumers sentiment and educational stage weigh higher?
I'd like to invite for further discussions in this forum.