Chr Hansen’s probiotic dairy product for kids: An untapped market ripe for innovation?

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/MarcoGovel
©iStock/MarcoGovel
Chr. Hansen’s new probiotic children’s drinking yoghurt taps into a trio of trends identified by the dairy producer combining functional dairy for gut health that appeals to young taste buds and health conscious parents.

Prokids, contains the firm’s newly developed freeze-dried culture, containing the probiotic strain Lactobacillus rhamnosus, (​LGG) ​together with a compatible yoghurt culture.

“The result is a very mild, tasty yoghurt drink with a high cell count of live probiotic bacteria,” ​says Dorte Eskesen, global marketing manager for Food Cultures & Enzymes at Chr Hansen.

“With the ProKids concept, which is available worldwide and can be merged into the dairy’s own brand portfolio, we are filling a hole in the dairy market.

“We believe there is an untapped potential for functional dairy products specifically for children.“

Dairy and probiotics

According to Eskesen, innovation for dairy products aimed at children have been at a low and steady level in the past five years globally with little in the way of functional dairy products with probiotics.

“With more and more people reflecting on health and the awareness and perception of bacteria as a result of the publicity around the microbiome we sense a renewed interest in probiotics globally,”​ she said.

“We believe that the time is right to respond to this and grow a category that seems to have lacked innovation for years. 

“Right now we see a general renewed interest in natural functional health in dairy in particular in the US, in East European countries and in Turkey and probiotics offer a possibility to differentiate in the market.“

Along with Danone’s Actimel (containing Lactobacillus casei ​DN-114001 probiotic strain) and Activia (containing another bacteria Bifidus Acti-Regularis​) brands, Chr Hansen will  be entering a crowded market with Yakult’s probiotic dairy product (containing the bacterium Lactobacillus casei Shirota)​, also in the mix.

Kids food and beverage

Global retail sales of products in general targeting children have increased in the past years, with a number of product launches for children increasing by 50% in the past five years.

Curcumin and omega-3 filled gummy bears and chews are also on offer from Israeli children's supplement specialists, Anlit.

Spanish pharmaceutical company Reig Jofre recently expanded its products designed for children with the introduction of MiniGum, a range of jelly beans created with immune system enhancement in mind.

The range is specifically formulated for the needs of children. Minigums Fiber for example, combines chicory fiber, mauve and prune juice to promote intestinal transit.

“Changes in family structures and disposable incomes as well as more attention being paid to children both from parents and grandparents are likely to explain some of the drivers,”​ said Eskesen.

“It is hard to predict the market for dairy products. It seems though there is an untapped potential ready to be captured.”

Euromonitor’s latest estimates suggest a global toddler food and beverage market worth €29bn ($34bn) in 2015, larger than the infant formula market valued at €21.3bn ($24.7bn).

The market research firm predict sales of toddler products to post a compound annual growth rate of 11.4% between now and 2018 eventually reaching €40bn ($47bn).

Its success is mainly down to product versatility. Dairy ingredients are plentiful in essential amino acids and minerals and are filling and gentle on the stomach.

Toddler-specific products such as snack bars, squeezable pouches, yoghurts, fruit drinks, milky drinks and toddler formulas can also be formulated to have a pleasant milky flavor that is ideal for a younger audience.

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