Michelle Teodoro, a food science and nutrition analyst at Mintel, said at our Probiota Asia 2017 summit in Singapore that more firms were looking beyond dairy for probiotic products, including candy, chocolates, baked goods and snacks.
Products she highlighted included the Solgar Ohso Good Chocolate with probiotics, which claims to deliver probiotic bacteria three times more effectively than dairy products.
Probiotic ice creams are already available in Asia, such as Ho-Eat Bifido Apple Flavoured Ice Bifido from Taiwan, Zhen Xi Original Flavoured Frozen Yoghurt Ice Cream from China, and Amul Probiotic Chocobar Ice Cream from India.
Teodoro added that shelf-stable probiotic products present untapped potential in APAC, especially around ambient yogurts.
Nevertheless, she said APAC was now leading the way in probiotic product launches, driven by China, South Korea and Australia.
APAC accounted for 35% of probiotic food, drink, vitamin and supplement launches between October 2012 and September 2017, compared to Europe at 29% and North America at 25%.
Among other indications, she said 49% of mothers in China are highly concerned about digestive disorders, while 42% of Chinese consumers purchase drinks with digestion benefits.
Teodoro stated that these are good indications for the rest of Asia, as country markets in the region tend to take market and demand cues from their larger neighbours, as well as from Western countries such as the US and in Europe.
She also stated that in Asian countries, probiotics and digestive health are part of cultural tradition, leading to a certain level of openness to further learning.
Nonetheless, transparency is critical in building trust for probiotics with consumers, especially about the strains of probiotics used, as well as mixes or multiplying of strains, which is seen as multiplying goodness and functionality.
Consumers tend to look approved health claims of probiotics, and the information needs to be clearly displayed or available in order to assure Asian consumers, she argued.