The US and European probiotics markets are set for emphatic growth in coming years despite widespread consumer ignorance about what probiotics are and how they can benefit the human body, according to a Frost & Sullivan report. It estimates the US market will reach $400 million by 2010 from a current level of $144 million. In the same period, European sales will more than triple from $40 million to $138 million.
Increasing consumer awareness, however, remains a primary concern for the estimated 120 companies on both sides of the Atlantic operating in the probiotics area. The fact that many probiotic ingredient suppliers are not in direct contact with the consumer and have to rely on marketing campaigns undertaken by end-product manufacturers such as dairies was highlighted as a problem area. Also noted was the need for more science to raise product credibility.
In its favour, the market was partially shielded from fresh competition by the high level of scientific and technical expertise and the high cost of gathering evidence to support health claims. However, competition between existing players is extremely high, with many finding it difficult to locate unique selling points for their products. For this reason, building positive brand awareness is considered paramount.
The report noted that while dairy and dietary supplements dominated the sector, new applications are being developed for ingredients.
?As improvements are made in the stability of probiotics, and a greater understanding is reached as to the mechanism of action and properties of different strains, new applications for probiotics are being developed,? explained Frost & Sullivan food industry analyst, Lyndsey Greig. ?This extended product range is likely to result in a greater probability of probiotics reaching a larger percentage of population, whether through conscious consumer choice or otherwise.?