North America leads growth in digestive health

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New products North america Asia pacific

North America was the fastest growing market last year for foods
and beverages targeting digestive health, according to data tracked
by Mintel.

The market researcher's Global New Products Database (GNPD) recorded 136 new products launched in the category last year. Although this remained far below the level of new product launches in Europe and Asia Pacific, the North American region recorded the highest growth rate of 131 percent between 2006 and 2007. Digestive health is slowly gathering speed in the US market, but it still lags behind other health concerns, such as heart health, immune health or weight management. Europe, which has traditionally led the food and beverage market for digestive health, saw 699 new products launched in 2007, some 52 percent higher than the year earlier. Asia Pacific recorded 427 new digestive health food and beverage products in 2007, a 75 percent increase. Latin America recorded 136 new products, with a growth of 86 percent. According to the American College of Gastroenterology, there are 95m people in the US that suffer from digestive problems. Some 60m are thought to suffer from heartburn, and 50m from irritable bowel syndrome. In addition, it is estimated that around 20m people suffer from stomach ulcers. To date, the largest segment of the digestive health market - particularly within the functional food category - is taken up by products made with 'friendly bacteria', or probiotics. Probiotics ​The market for probiotics continues to grow as awareness of their health benefits increases, together with their scientific backing. Some of the benefits of probiotics include immune stimulation, enhancement of bowel mobility, and reduction of inflammatory or allergic reactions.​ The North American market was again the fastest growing for products marketed as containing probiotics in 2007. According to GNPD, there were 116 new products launched in this category that year, 170 percent up on 43 products the year before. However, Mintel highlighted that the products recorded in its GNPD were only those marketed as including probiotics, rather than all products made with the healthy bacteria. As a result, the data is a more accurate indication of the trend to use 'probiotics' as a marketing term than the use of probiotics as ingredients. Asia Pacific had the second highest growth rate for probiotic products, with 188 new launches recorded in 2007, a 71 percent increase on the year before. Latin America recorded 91 new products, or a 25 percent increase. The market in Europe, which is more mature, saw a slight decrease in 2007, with the 362 new products launched that year dipping some 8 percent from the 393 products the year earlier. In 2008 to date there have been 93 probiotic product launches in North America, 193 in Europe, 114 in Asia Pacific and 40 in Latin America. Prebotics ​ Prebiotics also make up a growing part of the digestive health market. Prebiotic ingredients boost the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut. Although North America saw an impressive 113 percent growth of prebiotic product launches in 2007 (49 new products), it was the Asia Pacific market that saw a higher growth of 147 percent (106 new products). Europe recorded 204 new products, 73 percent up on 2006. Latin America recorded only 11 new products, compared to 24 the year before. In 2008 to date there have been 57 new prebiotic products launched in North America, 68 in Asia Pacific, 101 in Europe, and 8 in Latin America. The overall digestive health segment has so far seen 111 new food and beverage launches in North America this year, 306 in Europe, 261 in Asia Pacific and 67 in Latin America. Source: Mintel's GNPD

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