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How postbiotics can target immune health in the food & beverage sector
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Harnessing the power of postbiotics: Creating innovative immunity-enhancing products for the F&B sector

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In today's health-conscious world, consumers increasingly seek innovative products that can support their immune health.

There has been a shift in the consumer mindset towards preventive healthcare rather than solely relying on reactive treatments.1​ Consumers are proactively seeking ways to strengthen their immune systems to prevent illness and maintain overall health. Immunity products are seen as a proactive measure to support immune function and reduce the risk of infections.

One emerging area of interest is postbiotics which are gaining attention for their potential to enhance immunity while expanding product application possibilities. This explores how manufacturers can utilize postbiotics to create innovative immunity products.

The rise of postbiotics

Based on the ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) definition, a postbiotic is "a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and / or their components that confers a health benefit on the host".2​ They have been shown to generate various health benefits, including immune modulation, anti-inflammatory properties, and gut health improvement.

With more research being conducted and published, postbiotics are gaining more interest among consumers and industry professionals alike. Indeed, the postbiotics market was valued at $1.6 billion in 2021, and is estimated to reach $3 billion by 2031.3​ This interest is driven by the desire for evidence-based solutions for immune health and overall wellness.


Postbiotics and immune health

LAC-Shield™, developed by Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd., is a postbiotic ingredient that has gained significant attention for its immune-supporting properties. LAC-Shield™ is unique in that even though the bacterial cells are heat-killed, it remains biologically active. When LAC-Shield™ reaches the small intestine, it is recognized by antigen-presenting cells such as dendritic cells and promotes the production of a specific cytokine, interleukin-12 (IL-12), which is a key activator of innate and adaptive immunity.4

Intake of LAC-Shield™ (10 billion cells/day) has been clinically reported to significantly reduce the number of days of cold symptoms and symptom scores in adult women.5​ In addition, the latest clinical study has shown that intake of LAC-Shield™ (50 billion cells/day) can support maintaining the physical condition of healthy adults of a wide range of ages in both sexes by reducing the symptoms of the common cold.6​ Another clinical study has also suggested that intake of LAC-Shield™ in a jelly format at a dosage of 10 billion cells/day helps to improve immune responsiveness to vaccinations, particularly in elderly individuals with weakened immunity.7

Altogether, these findings demonstrate the clinical efficacy of LAC-Shield™ in supporting immune health in adults and seniors, especially those with a weakened immunity from factors such as aging and infection. In fact, LAC-Shield™ was selected among thousands of bacterial strains for its superior efficacy on immune enhancement and for its practical advantages in supporting food and beverage manufacturers to incorporate biotic ingredients in a wide variety of applications that were challenging to achieve in the past.


Benefits of using postbiotic LAC-Shield™

Increasing consumer interest in the functional food and beverages sector has created new opportunities for the industry. Because of this, Morinaga Milk developed LAC-Shield™ to meet consumer demand and provide alternative applications.

LAC-ShieldTM​ is adaptable and considered easy for use in a variety of food and beverage products which allows opportunity for innovation, especially in immune-supporting drinks, confectionery and snacks. Some of its key application benefits include:

1. Strong stability

Due to its heat-tolerant nature and high stability across a range of pH levels, among other conditions, LAC-Shield™ avoids the stability issues of traditional probiotics. As it is an inactivated heat-killed Lacticaseibacillus​, LAC-Shield™ successfully manages to keep its health benefits active even after undergoing harsh manufacturing conditions, yielding a long shelf life and resistance for gastrointestinal transit.

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Thanks to its stability and efficacy, the postbiotic LAC-Shield™ presents an opportunity for the next wave of innovative solutions in the immunity space with a wider range of applications without concern over major stability issues. In the near future, more and more products are expected to emerge onto the market, such as postbiotic bread/cakes or instant drinks with immune health positioning, to appeal to consumer demand and health needs.

2. Functional snacking potential

Currently, potential in the functional snacking sector and new product development is being explored. Foods that contain functional ingredients are popular and can turn a quick bite into a convenient source of nutrition between meals or on the go. Replacing regular snacks with something more nutritious can help consumers to reach their health goal without any hesitation or problem. Many opportunities exist for confectionery/snacks that contain postbiotics like LAC-Shield™. By incorporating postbiotics into snacking, consumers do not have to trade their favorite treats for boring snacks just because they are trying to stay healthy.

3. Achieving convenience

Consumers seeking functional food and beverages also value convenience.8 ​Creating a solution/strategy that can make everyday food and drinks more nutritional can be valuable to consumers, helping them adopt them if they can if they can easily be incorporated into their daily lives.

Manufacturers can definitely utilize the benefits of LAC-Shield™ to create innovative products. Just taking the examples within Japan, there are more than 500 companies using the postbiotic ingredient LAC-Shield™ where it is incorporated into more than 1,000 food and beverage products. There are still many obstacles in terms of regulation towards postbiotics but Morinaga Milk is overcoming them step-by-step.

LAC-Shield™ can be used in the US, EU, South Korea, and China. Thanks to the effort of regulatory representatives in APAC, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines and Thailand have also been added.

“The postbiotic LAC-Shield™ offers manufacturers a promising avenue for creating innovative immunity products. By harnessing the power of LAC-Shield™, manufacturers can meet the growing consumer demand for effective and science-backed immunity products. Morinaga Milk hopes to keep contributing to people's well-being through research,” says Saki Yamashita, Assistant Manager of International B2B Business Department, Morinaga Milk.


1.​ FMCG Gurus. Health and Wellness: Prevention Over Cure in 2022​.
2.​ ISAPP. Behind the publication: Understanding ISAPP’s new scientific consensus definition of postbiotics​.
3.​ Allied Market Research. Postbiotic Market Expected to Reach $3 Billion by 2031 – Allied Market Research​.
4.​ Arai, S.; Iwabuchi, N.; Takahashi, S.; et al. (2018). Orally administered heat-killed Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 enhances antigen-specific IgA secretion and induces follicular helper T cells in mice.​ PloS one, 13(6), e0199018.
5.​ Murata, M.; Kondo, J.; Iwabuchi, N.; et al. (2018). Effects of paraprobiotic Lactobacillus paracasei MCC1849 supplementation on symptoms of the common cold and mood states in healthy adults.​ Beneficial microbes, 9(6), 855–864.
6.​ Sato, S.; Arai, S.; Iwabuchi, N.; et al. (2023). Effects of Heat-Killed Lacticaseibacillus paracasei MCC1849 on the Maintenance of Physical Condition in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study.​ Nutrients, 15(15), 3450.
7.​ Maruyama, M.; Abe, R.; Shimono, T.; et al. (2016). The effects of non-viable Lactobacillus on immune function in the elderly: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.​ International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 67(1), 67–73.
8.​ FMCG Gurus: Snack Trends in 2021 - Global Report​.