The probiotics sector continues to grow rapidly, with 20% growth reported by some sources, but regulatory issues, particularly in Europe with EFSA and the health claims regulations there, have created challenges for industry players.
Speaking with NutraIngredients-USA at the recent SupplySide West show in Las Vegas, IPA’s George Paraskevakos said that the science is key to driving market success.
“In regards to the sector, everything seems to point towards growth; it’s healthy and we’re starting to see consolidation and acquisitions, but all of this growth is not unfounded: I think the science coming out of the sector is fueling the growth. The science and the research is unlocking the amazing potential of probiotics and the health benefits that they can bring.”
Turning his attention the regulators, Paraskevakos said that, “as a general statement, I believe regulators are starting to turn the corner when it comes to regulating probiotics. They realize that we’re not a regular mineral or vitamin ingredient or supplement, but we’re a living organism and that requires a certain expertise. I think the regulators are starting to understand that they need to look to association that has that expertise.
“We’ve looked at creating dialogue and stakeholder meetings with important regulators across different geographies. We’ve recently booked a stakeholder meeting with ANVISA in Brazil, we’re waiting for a date with the Mexican authorities, and we were at the FDA’s facility three weeks ago and they communicated that there needs to be a dialogue and they have to open up when it comes to probiotics.”
In Europe, Paraskevakos said that IPA recently opened its European office in Brussels with guests from EFSA, the European Commission, and the European Parliament. “There’s been deadlock in Europe when it comes to probiotic health claims but the message coming out of that meeting was we need to get into dialogue and maybe some pre-submission type of model,” he said.
Using GOED as the blueprint
The IPA has undergone through a transition period, acknowledged Paraskevakos, with the former executive director leaving in 2014.
“My goal is quite simple,” he said. “We are an association that brings all the stakeholders of the sector together. IPA wants to bridge these stakeholders and be the platform where they all interact and be the go-to probiotic association for all the people active in the probiotic sector.
“We’re in the process of producing guidelines and best practice documents,” he added. “We’re creating more media outreach. The stakeholders meetings with the government agencies will be important going forward.
“We have to have more visibility at shows and conferences. If IPA can become the GOED for the probiotic industry, then that’s the goal.”