The conclusion forms one of a series of recommendations outlined in a new report by Lumina Intelligence that looks at the probiotic supplement landscape in the UK, its market drivers and progress in product development.
Here, the report identifies the need to engage and inform the consumer of a sector that emphasises research and the views of respected experts to validate and improve the public perception of probiotics.
While research is acknowledged as core to increase consumer understanding for probiotics, the report’s author Tom Morgan, Lumina’s market analyst said that documentaries rely on novel-research to present, to best give an interesting experience for the viewer.
“Investing in research long-term offers a solution to increasing public understanding of probiotic supplements, by offering a larger knowledge base for media to work from,” he explained.
“With a culture deep-rooted in old educational institutions and the push by Kings College to validate the use of probiotics in constipation treatment, research comes forward as a key means to increase consumer awareness and appreciation for probiotics.”
European Commission ruling
A ruling made by the European Commission back in 2006, where food ingredients had to show strong evidence to validate all claims on packaging, has complicated the UK’s relationship with probiotics.
The list of claims allowed is narrow, with only one probiotic strain holding a claim. Legally it is not a term that can be used on packaging as ruled in 2012, further emphasised in 2014 with the ruling against Probiotics International Ltd for using the term in advertising.
Despite, the regulatory limitations, the report highlights the rise in public interest, possibly buoyed on by the increasing adoption of healthy eating and/or lifestyles.
Broadcasters such as the BBC have responded in kind by showing documentaries about the topic, such as ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor’ as well as programmes on websites such as YouTube, which registered 327k videos under the search ‘probiotics’ in June 2018.
Morgan also believes the market to be fragmented with potential for growth, adding, “With the top 20 of the 74 brands holding 86% of the total number of reviews, it indicates a still fragmented market and is a great sign of diversity in the probiotics space in the UK”.
“Very few brands have multiple probiotic lines, as probiotics are largely a variant within their supplement categories rather than being a category on their own.”
Nu U Nutrition & Protexin
He said that only a few brands owners in the UK specifically specialise in probiotics such as Nu U Nutrition offer broad coverage across the supplement space.
Probiotics International Ltd (Protexin), owner of the brand Bio-Kult, stood out not only due to its size but also the fact it’s a probiotic supplier for the larger market.
“Whilst it is in the UK where Protexin’s proprietary ingredients only appear in Bio-Kult, it’s international repertoire signifies it has a has much greater technical ability to expand if the probiotics market grows,” the report said.
Currently it already has a larger than average number of variants, with three. As of July 2018, Bio-Kult Mult-Strain Formula was the best-selling probiotic on Amazon.co.uk.
The report also points to increasing interest in infant products as compared to other markets, commenting that if the UK were to follow global trends, this market would see the largest increase in attention, as research develops.
“Parents are likely to look for aid in treating specific conditions, such as colic in children, and will purchase supplements to best improve the long-term health of their offspring,” the report concluded.
“Evidence suggests that format will be key for the diversification of brand lines in this sense, to best appeal to infants, and to make it easier for parents to give the supplements to their children –with drops, or sachets.”
The report also predicted that the use of different formats would not only be used to draw in the infant market, but also to appeal to new adult consumers.
It believed adults, previously turned off by probiotic supplements due to their clinical look, in the format of capsules, would be encouraged by how probiotics can be delivered in a number of different formats, making it easier to handle, like dissolvable powders (sachets), gummies and shots.
Morgan also identified immunity as a probiotic-related topic that was gaining interest due a number of factors, such as “the increasing threat of antibiotic resistance, to consumers simply wanting to avoid the common cold.
“Whilst making health claims on food products within the EU is difficult, the pharmaceuticals route is always an option, and combining with ingredients which already have claims is still a valid means of making a claim.”
ABOUT LUMINA INTELLIGENCE
Lumina Intelligence is an insights service delivering a unique perspective on high-growth food and nutrition markets brought to you by William Reed, publisher of food and drink news sites including Nutraingredients.com and FoodNavigator.com.
Lumina Intelligence has been created to equip the industry with tools to measure the evolution of science, online consumer engagement and regulation and its impact on product formulation, labelling and new product development. Our aim is to help users pinpoint trends and opportunities in niche markets, helping maximise the chance for success for new product launches.
With data from over 20 countries, Lumina provides in-depth ingredient analysis and product labelling information across Probiotics, Sports Nutrition and Sustainability.