2010 only accounted for 5 of the 62 non-alcoholic drink launches in Europe mentioning the word ‘probiotic’ between 2005 and 2010, according to the Mintel Global New Product Development (GNPD) database.
And probiotic juice, a much talked about category, has seen new product numbers decline in Europe in recent years. The GNPD tool picked up only two new products in Europe in 2009.
However, much of the lack of activity in the European market may be down to the EU health claim approval process that has yet to give the green light to any probiotic products.
Increased awareness in US
In other markets the situation is looking more encouraging. In the US awareness of probiotic drinks appears to be on the rise.
Mintel research suggests that 27 per cent of US consumers that eat functional foods and drinks now look for probiotic beverages. That is up from 11 per cent in 2009.
And awareness of prebiotic drinks is also on the rise with numbers looking for them now outstripping those scanning the shelves for probiotic drinks a year ago.
Drinking yoghurts and milks make up the bulk of the market at the moment – 89 per cent of all probiotic beverage launches fit into this category.
A very recent, high profile example is Jamba Probiotic Fruit and Yogurt Blends – a range of yoghurt drinks from Jamba Juice launched in the US last week.
But there is also significant interest in the juice segment. Juices may only make up 11 per cent of probiotic beverage launches but they are still seen as one of the most promising non-dairy vehicles for probiotics.
More work may be needed to improve awareness but juices have the advantage of already being positioned as health products.
In a report on the juice market published in July last year, Mintel said: “The juice category will need more extensive consumer education to make consumers aware that it too can deliver those benefits. But given juice’s already strong association with health benefits, as well as the jump in interest during the past year, the rewards might be worth the effort.”