Probiotics Manufacturers Battle Low Consumer Awareness; Raising Consumer Education is Priority

LONDON--Oct. 14, 2003--Limited consumer awareness threatens to restrain the development of the U.S. and European probiotics markets. In regions such as the U.S. and U.K., consumer knowledge of probiotics is extremely low and is restricted to a few specific products. Even in areas such as northern Europe where probiotic products have been widely accepted, penetration into the target market has been lower than anticipated due to relatively low awareness levels.

Frost & Sullivan's food industry analyst, Lyndsey Greig notes, "Increasing public knowledge of probiotics has been cited by most companies as their first priority. However, many probiotic manufacturers are not in direct contact with the consumer and must rely on marketing investment by end-users such as dairy companies."

Another key challenge for the probiotics industry is to enhance credibility through independent scientific studies. Products supported by comprehensive scientific documentation and proof of efficacy are likely to make the strongest gains, particularly when specific health claims are being made. Consumers will have greater confidence in probiotics products that offer scientific evidence of their beneficial effects.

Dairy and dietary supplements are currently the main application areas for probiotic products in food. But manufacturers are working to develop new food applications for probiotic ingredients, and to expand their use within existing product segments thereby enlarging the existing consumer base.

"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. 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," explains Greig.

In 2003, the total European probiotics market comprising the four main application areas -- dairy, animal feed, supplements and infant nutrition -- was estimated at $40.3 million, with the U.S. market valued at $143.9 million. Within the EU, dairy constituted the main human food application, whereas supplements were a much bigger market in the U.S., where consumers are generally more comfortable with the idea of taking a pill.

It is forecast that the European probiotics market will grow to reach $137.9 million in 2010, with the U.S. market projected to reach $394 million.

As competition intensifies, participants will need to make comprehensive efforts to advance the probiotic concept and raise public awareness. Such initiatives will involve collaborating with competitors for overall promotion of probiotics, increasing consumer understanding and updating healthcare professionals and food companies about latest industry developments. Disseminating information within the industry and among regulatory bodies will also be critical to success.

European and United States Probiotics Market (B187)


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