The European prebiotics market is diversifying and expanding in both importance and value throughout the food and beverage industry, with several exciting developments in infant formula products, dairy and beverages and the expansion of prebiotic ingredients into new application sectors such as snack products and meat products.
New prebiotic ingredients with unique functional properties are entering the prebiotics market and the importance of prebiotic fibres as opposed to general fibres is steadily increasing in market applications. The food ingredients industry remains less affected than many others despite challenging economic market conditions. Manufacturers have noticed that the driver of active health management remains the strongest, where consumers will continue to pay for functional ingredients like prebiotics as long as they can continue to clearly associate these ingredients with clear benefits to health.
The increased frequency of research results publication detailing the effects of prebiotics and the benefits possible from these ingredients should allow the formation of new manufacturing partnerships. In this way, innovative products can be developed and targeted towards health, and positive marketing initiatives can clearly demonstrate the advantages of these products in the market.
Recent analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.food.frost.com) on the European Human Food and Beverage Prebiotics Market, finds that the market earned revenues of euro 295.5 million in 2008, representing a volume of 91,905 tonnes. The prebiotics market is expected to reach euro 766.9 million in 2015, with overall volumes of 204,895 tonnes and a compound annual growth rate of 14.0 per cent. In this research, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following segments: fructans (Inulin, Fructo-oligosaccharides) and lactose-derived prebiotics (galacto-oligosaccharides and galacto-fructans), with separate forecasts for each type of ingredient. Resistant starch and other novel prebiotics are also considered.
"Prebiotics in food and beverage products are attractive and extremely useful in a wide variety of applications, as they have properties for enhancing texture, general fibre provision and, most importantly, their primary market driver is their high functionality, which corresponds with the increasingly health-driven market in Europe and the growing importance of digestive health to consumers," notes Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Dr. Deborah Cross. "The majority of the market is governed by the fructans manufacturers (inulin and fructo-oligosaccharide) but increasingly important segments in the prebiotics market are the lactose-derived prebiotics (galacto-oligosaccharide and galacto-fructose), and there is enormous potential for the nascent segment of resistant starch prebiotics in the next few years."
Although consumers may find it difficult to distinguish between the messages offered by probiotic and prebiotic products in the market, it is widely accepted that all these products have the same goal of improving digestive health. Undoubtedly, the marketing efforts of large food manufacturing companies have contributed positively to raising the development of awareness in the digestive health sector.
Prebiotics have a multi-functional nature, where they are used to modify textural properties, including creaminess and mouthfeel in a wide range of food and beverage products. Fructan prebiotics such as inulin are used to replace fat and sugar in various foods and beverages. The growing extent of research trials to demonstrate functionality have strongly supported the trend for the growing importance of prebiotic ingredients in new areas such as cancer prevention, improved mineral absorption, weight management and satiety.
Significantly, in the last few years, the major fructan manufacturers have acted to substantially expand their production capacity for prebiotics in light of this increasing demand. Probiotic bacteria are ideal partners for prebiotic fibres and are already well established in the European functional food ingredients market, recognised for their ability to improve gut flora composition, immune health and for several other health-promoting properties.
"Prebiotics act as food sources or ideal substrates for the growth of probiotic bacteria," explains Dr. Cross. "In the human food market, the prominent market of digestive health products has been positively associated with the use of both probiotic and prebiotic products, with the view that gut microfloral composition can be manipulated or controlled selectively and positively through the preventive use of both these ingredients."
Increasing consumer awareness about prebiotics represents the main barrier to their market growth currently, along with the availability of results from scientific research trials to support their beneficial effect in areas like satiety, calcium absorption and other areas of health. In 2008, only fructan prebiotics are supported by sufficient trial results to be able to claim such a wide range in functionality, whereas the manufacturers of other types of prebiotics require more documentation to support benefits other than the prebiotic effect.
The forthcoming results of the Nutrition and Health Claims Legislation are expected to have a strong effect on the entire functional foods market, as only successfully registered ingredient products will be able to claim positive effects on health and nutrition in the market.
"The majority of ingredient manufacturers consider that this will strengthen the functional food ingredients market in the longer term, as it will remove less-than-optimal products from the market," remarks Dr. Cross. "As such, the outcome of the initial claim submissions under this new legislation will have a definite impact on the level of added value that scientific trials will add to a product in the functional food ingredients market."
In the market, the message promoting probiotic bacteria and prebiotic fibres is confusing in nature, and consumers find it difficult to distinguish between the two products. Thus, it is important that a clear message promoting digestive health is communicated within the marketplace so that the consumer can clearly associate a benefit to ingredient consumption.
"The market development of prebiotics as functional ingredients in Europe is currently challenged by the need for their successful registration under the Nutrition and Health Claims Legislation, expected to be finalised by 2010 and the limited consumer awareness of these ingredients, so continued marketing initiatives should address this to ensure that this is a relatively short-term limitation," says Dr. Cross. "The strong body of science behind the fructan ingredients for their functional properties, the myriad of health benefits that they can support and the increasing number of product applications strongly supports their continued impressive market growth, as consumers continue to purchase ingredients associated with functional health benefits."
Manufacturers of the non-fructan prebiotics currently are strongly focused on R&D and publishing trial publications, as well as a number of joint venture partnerships to establish technology and ingredient advancement. This is aimed at helping describe the full functionality of these ingredients and should significantly aid their position in the prebiotics market.
Part of the lack of clarity regarding prebiotics in the European market can be explained by the confusion among consumers as to what represents an effective daily prebiotic dose. Without central regulation in product labelling, many European consumers are consuming far less prebiotics per day than they need to exert health benefits. Further research and consensus in this area would be essential to communicating to consumers what they need to include in their diets in order to promote good digestive health. It should be recognised that the individual prebiotic ingredients will also have different daily requirements to exert their effects.
"The increased focus on research and development in order to establish a scientific basis for product introductions, and the promotional techniques and literature to describe the benefits of prebiotics in the market will promote a greater awareness of these ingredients in the minds of consumers and stimulate their continued market development," comments Dr. Cross. "The profile and awareness of prebiotics in the human food and beverage market continues to increase and more consumers are beginning to associate them with positive digestive health benefits, satiety enhancement and other benefits."
New synbiotic products combine the benefits of prebiotic and probiotic ingredients, for optimal benefit to digestive health in consumers. In future, the development of partnerships for technological advancement and innovation will promote strong market development for prebiotic ingredients.
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Strategic Analysis of the European Human Food and Beverage Prebiotics Markets is part of the Food & Beverage Ingredients Growth Partnership Service programme, which also includes research in the following markets: Strategic Analysis of the European Companion Animal Feed Prebiotics Market, Strategic Analysis of the European Food and Beverage Probiotics Market, Strategic Analysis of the European Animal Feed Probiotics Market, Strategic Analysis of the European Dietary Supplements Market and, Strategic Analysis of the United States Prebiotics Market. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have been evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
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Strategic Analysis of the European Human Food and Beverage Prebiotics Markets (M1AC)