Little bottles making it big in functional dairy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Probiotic, Kefir

The success of the 'little bottle' or 'daily dose' format in the
probiotics sector is encouraging companies to launch new functional
products in the handy sized bottle, leaving out the traditional
packs altogether, writes Dominique Patton.

The 100ml bottle size was pioneered by Japan's Yakult, approaching its 10-year anniversary on the European market with its famous probiotic drink, sold in a pack of seven - one for each day.

Since then the format has been copied by both multinationals - Danone and Nestle - and smaller European dairy firms, all tapping into consumer awareness of gut health. But recent months have seen new ingredients being packaged in the daily dose bottles.

Finnish dairy Valio is launching its Evolus, a fermented milk containing bioactive peptides, B vitamins and seaweed-derived calcium, and the first functional food claimed to reduce blood pressure, in a daily dose multipack on the firm's home market this month. It is also adding the daily dose Benecol yoghurt drink to its range in Finland, which has been introduced to a number of European markets in the last six months.

"Handy daily dose drinks packed in recyclable single-dose bottles are the fastest growing segment of the functional foods market in Europe,"​ said Annika Mäyrä-Mäkinen, senior vice president of Valio R&D.

The European probiotic drinks market was worth more than €1 billion in 2003 and is showing growth of 30-40 per cent annually, faster than the growth in functional foods, valued at around 7 per cent annually in the most important markets, such as the UK and Germany.

"For products that require regular consumption, the single shots are an ideal way of regulating the dose,"​ said David Jago, Mintel analyst. "It is also more convenient if only one member of the family is consuming the drink."

The format is also being used by Masterfoods, which last year set up a new division to market healthy cocoa snacks. Its first product, available in limited distribution in the UK, is the Positively Healthy Cocoa Drink,a chilled milk drink said to be high in natural cocoa antioxidants and sold in a four-pack of 85 ml bottles.

But Jago cautions that while the mini size will continue to appeal to consumers, it has limited applications.

"For a regular juice-based beverage, such a small quantity means that it loses its refreshment properties. I don't think we will see many functional juices in this format."

One of the few exceptions has been Skane Mejerier's dairy-free probiotic drink Shot!, marketed under the ProViva brand. It reached the UK this month in a sixpack of 80ml bottles.

But the trend is likely to remain largely within the dairy sector, which has used the innovative packaging to promote new value-added functional products and drive new sales using the concept first pioneered by Yakult.

Related topics: Suppliers, Markets and Trends, Dairy

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