- Nearly half of people (48%) consume probiotics daily or almost daily in foods or supplements, according to a survey of 16,000 consumers in 16 countries by Danish ingredients supplier Chr. Hansen. While 36% of all respondents said that they consumed probiotics at breakfast, dinner (14%), lunch (13%) and snacks (13%) were also popular eating occasions.
- Dairy food is consumers’ preferred way to eat probiotics, according to the survey. However, when asked what foods containing probiotics they would buy if products were available, 48% of respondents said cheese, with fruit or vegetable juice (43%) and plant-based fermented products (28%) other popular options.
- The results of the survey show that while probiotics have become more widely available in products from dairy CPGs like Danone and Chobani, more manufacturers have the opportunity to tap the functional ingredient in other categories. However, the survey also found a need for more education from manufacturers about where probiotics can be found and their benefits.
As the pandemic has sharpened consumers’ focus toward better-for-you ingredients in the foods they purchased, CPGs have zeroed in on gut health and immunity as an avenue for implementing wellness into their products. Probiotics, which contain beneficial bacteria to fight off “bad” bacteria in a person’s microbiome, speak to these needs.
The functional bacterial ingredients have been on the rise in the dairy space for years, mainly in yogurt. Chobani released a line of probiotic yogurts in 2020. Lifeway Foods has found success with its probiotic-infused kefir drink, while Good Culture has updated cottage cheese in part by introducing better-for-you elements like the microorganisms. And just this week, Danone launched Activia+ Multi-Benefit Probiotic Yogurt Drinks, a line that offers billions of live and active probiotics to support gut health.
The bacteria have also appeared in cereal launches, with Kellogg debuting a line of probiotic-infused Special K Nourish cereals in late 2017, and General Mills partnering with GoodBelly on a probiotic-infused cereal offer in 2019. That same year, better-for-you snack giant Kind released a line of breakfast bars containing probiotics. And the friendly bacteria have also begun making their way into juices. This week, Uncle Matt’s Organic launched Matt50, a low-sugar orange juice beverage that contains 1 billion probiotics per 8-ounce serving.
But the Chr. Hansen survey also showed that despite the growing flood of offerings, consumers are still getting familiar with probiotics, and that more education is needed. Seventy-one percent of consumers said that they would like to learn more about the microorganisms — specifically their functional benefits and which bacterial strains to choose. Meanwhile, consumers also expressed confusion about which products contain probiotics, with 47% agreeing with the incorrect statement that all dairy yogurts contain them.
The survey found that most consumers received information about products containing probiotics on the internet (38%) rather than a doctor (28%) or dietitian or nutritionist (25%). Respondents also said that product packaging is the most preferred method of receiving information about the microorganisms, followed by online resources, meaning those could be the two most effective ways for manufacturers to educate consumers.
Lars Bredmose, senior director of commercial development in food cultures & enzymes with Chr. Hansen, said in a statement that the research highlights the need for increased education overall about the microorganisms’ benefits.
“We believe our survey findings point to a significant opportunity for producers in the industry who are willing to offer food products made with credible probiotic strains,” said Bredmose.