Foods and beverages marketed for digestive health have crept to the top of the list of new functional product launches so far this year, according to statistics provided by Mintel.
The latest figures from the group’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) were provided to NutraIngredients-USA.com in the same week as the results of a survey in the US, which found that 85 percent of US adults know “little to nothing” about probiotics.
Despite low awareness for the gut-healthy bacteria, Mintel’s data reveals that the category has established a firm foothold in the market, and demonstrates that food manufacturers have confidence in the sector’s potential.
So far in 2008 (January 1 through September 23), there have been 142 new foods or beverages launched on the US market in the digestive health category. This already surpasses the category’s figure for the whole of 2007, which recorded 103 products.
Indeed, digestive health product launches so far this year have also overtaken heart health, which was last year’s top category and which remains a major priority for the US public.
All functional claims
Overall, Mintel recorded 359 new functional product introductions, which includes products in the digestive, cardiovascular, brain, immune support, bone health and beauty categories.
After digestive health, cardiovascular health still came in a close second, with 134 new products launched in the category so far this year in the US. This compares to 148 launches in the full-year 2007.
Items claiming benefits for the brain and nervous system came in a distant third, recording 50 new launches. The immune health category recorded 49 products, bone health recorded 15, and foods with beauty benefits recorded 6 new launches. In addition, there were 55 new products that fell into Mintel’s ‘other’ functional food category.
Digestive health leads globally
The popularity of the digestive health sector was not limited to the US market. It also came top of the European and global new functional product launches in 2008.
Europe, where the probiotics market is more mature, has seen 416 new digestive health products launched in the nine months to September 2008. Globally, GNPD recorded 1204 new launches.
Unlike the US market, where probiotics are still catching up with other functional categories, the European and global figures show digestive health launches have shot past all other categories. In Europe, the second most popular category is immune health, which recorded 122 products. Globally, the digestive health sector is followed by cardiovascular health, with 410 launches.
Yesterday, NutraIngredients-USA.com reported on the results of a new survey, which found that two thirds of the 1000 US adults interviewed had never heard of the term ‘probiotics’.
Carried out by Opinion Research Corporation, the survey revealed that only 15 percent of American adults were familiar with the healthy bacteria.
However, Ioannis Misopoulos, executive director of the International Probiotics Association (IPA), told NutraIngredients-USA.com that “awareness is definitely low, but that is changing”.
“A couple of years ago, only 5 percent of Americans knew about probiotics,” he said.
Source: Mintel’s GNPD