It's Time for Manufacturers to Develop Value-Added Products With Vegan-Friendly Probiotics.
The global probiotic market reached a net worth of USD 48.38 billion. The North American probiotic products market was valued at USD 6.7 billion in 2018 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.3 percent to reach USD 14.28 billion by 2024.
This remarkable growth rate is attributed to continued consumer interest in personalized nutrition, preventative healthcare, and value-added clean-label products enriched with probiotics. The value-added proposition is enhanced by the development of new and more efficient probiotic strains.
Probiotics help maintain and regulate the microorganisms within our digestive tract, naturally boost our body's immune system and improve digestion. Consumers are increasingly aware of these benefits. They seek healthy, better-for-you food and supplement products, giving food manufacturers a worthwhile opportunity to enter the probiotic and nutritional markets with new value-added product offerings.
Dairy-based yogurt and cultured dairy beverages, such as kefir, have traditionally been go-to products for obtaining the daily dose of probiotics. Although these dairy products are nutritious, dairy consumption may be an issue for certain groups of consumers. Many traditional probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt and kefir, contain animal-based proteins and lactose, which presents a major problem for people following a vegan diet and those suffering from lactose intolerance. According to the 2020 survey, 9.7 million people in the US followed a plant-based diet last year. The number of people in North America embracing veganism had grown 3,000 percent between 2004 and 2019. Herein lies an opportunity for manufacturers to develop value-added plant-based products enriched with plant-based vegan probiotics to cater to the population turning to a plant-based lifestyle.
A plant-based probiotic can have many benefits over dairy probiotics besides being suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets. A&B Ingredients offers a plant-based probiotic PA5051, based on Pediococcus Acidilactici, a single strain subclass of gram-positive, lactic acid bacteria. Unlike other probiotic supplements that cannot survive in the harsh, acid environment of the stomach and never make it through the digestive system, this vegan probiotic is temperature and oxygen-stable. It can withstand pH as low as 1.5 and survive in the acidic stomach environment, eventually making a home in the digestive system. Studies have shown that PA5051 can be used complimentarily with antibiotics, which means the food formulators may develop value-added products and nutritional supplements that the consumer can take while taking antibiotic medications without diminishing the health effects of the said probiotic.
"What makes PA5051 unique is that it is truly a plant-based probiotic with both technical and nutritional benefits," explains Joe O'Neill, VP of Sales and Business Development at A&B Ingredients. "Technical benefits include tolerance to oxygen, temperature up to 185° F, and acidic environments. These benefits translate into enhanced viability and shelf life stability compared to other strains of probiotics. The fact that it is not a spore-based probiotic allows for effective sanitation and clean-up control in a manufacturing facility. The remarkable acidity tolerance makes for a strong nutritional statement and marketing message for the value-added products. The PA5051 is backed by sound clinical trials supporting label structure-function claims. Beyond a simple claim, such as "contains probiotics", PA5051 can be used to include a claim on immunity, such as "supports the body's natural defenses".
Probiotics are easily added to formulations without altering the taste of the finished product. "Adding probiotics is not only beneficial to the consumer as it provides incredible health benefits, but it's also an excellent way for food manufacturers to increase the value and appeal of their food products," says O'Neill. "However, there are a few things manufacturers need to consider before selecting which probiotic they want to add to the product, including the probiotic's quality, viability, and dietary benefits. To that point, a plant-based probiotic, like PA5051, can offer unmatched advantages over other probiotics."
The positive effects of probiotics are indisputable and continue to be an area of interest. Researchers at Harvard, for example, have found a link between probiotics and brain health. The gut has been coined 'the second brain' due to its ability to produce the same neurotransmitters as the brain. With the gut-brain connection in mind, new research has emerged that suggests the impact a healthy gut can have on cognitive ability and mood regulation. As this research develops and more people become aware of probiotics' systemic benefits, we can expect to see sales of probiotic supplements and value-added products take off. Whether following a vegan, vegetarian, carnivore, or flexitarian diet, plant-based probiotics are a great way for consumers to boost natural immunity and support overall functioning.