When marketing probiotics, do consumers care about delivery technology?

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / SIphotography
Getty Images / SIphotography

Related tags Probiotic delivery systems

When marketing probiotics, delivery system technology is still mostly a B2B tool, according to data from Lumina Intelligence. But as consumers scrutinize efficacy more, it may become an important marketing tool.

“Using a delivery system and making consumers aware of that is one of the ways to demonstrate to consumers that a significant count of bacteria in the product is going to survive the manufacturing, the storage and finally the passage through the digestive tract to reach the intestines alive,”​ Ewa Hudson, head of market insights at Lumina Intelligence​ told us.

Yet a majority of probiotic products screened by Lumina (79%) does not name a specific delivery system.

“This indicates that despite delivery systems offering marketing opportunities for manufacturers, they are still considered more of a business-to-business tool, focusing on research and development opportunities, rather than a direct marketing benefit for the consumer,”​ according to a report by Lumina​.  

For now, terms and technology like BIO-tract (trademarked by Probi company Nutraceutix), DRcaps (by Lonza company Capsugel), or ‘delayed response capsules’ are mostly a business-to-business tool.

How to communicate efficacy, delivery technology

Instead, using phrases such as ‘arrive alive,’ ‘acid resistant capsule’ or ‘all of the friendly bacteria in this supplement are scientifically proven to pass through stomach acidity to reach the gut alive’ are better ways to attract consumers, the report suggested.

That doesn’t mean consumers won’t be interested in learning about the nitty-gritty of how different technologies can deliver probiotics safely into their digestive tracts so that the bacteria will do the job the product claims it will do.

One example Hudson shared was how Hyperbiotics communicated to consumers the importance of paying attention to delivery technology of probiotics.

“They convey a soft marketing message talking about the importance of viability rather than their specific delivery system (Bio-tract),”​ she said, referring to an evergreen blog post on their site​.

Probiotics in ice cream, granola, and more

One continuing trend, particularly in the US consumer packaged goods (or CPG) space is the inclusion of probiotics in food.

And it’s not just about yogurt or beverages anymore—Unilever launched a probiotic ice cream called Culture Republick​, Purely Elizabeth has a line of probiotic granola​, and Health Warrior (now owned by PepsiCo) launched a line of plant protein powders fortified with probiotics​.

All the products mentioned above use GanedenBC30, a branded strain now owned by Irish ingredients company Kerry Group.

“The composition of GanedenBC30 differentiates itself from other probiotics by its ability to survive manufacturing processes, shelf life, stomach acids and intestinal bile, so I can see why they would work with these probiotics,”​ Hudson said.

“Amongst a range of health benefits some studies indicate that these species help with digestion of plant-protein, and as such would be a very good addition to a number of vegan products on the market.”

Last month, Unilever launched an ice cream brand fortified with probiotics called Culture Republick.

When ingredient suppliers market the use of their probiotics for use in functional foods and beverages, it’s important to have the scientific substantiation that the probiotics can actually live safely in the specific food or beverage product throughout the manufacturing process, shipping, storage, all the way to the end consumer’s gut.

“Companies are investing more in these systems, particularly since there was some early justified criticism in academia and the media about the real efficaciousness of probiotic supplements.  Brands, by investing in delivery systems, heighten product potency and gain both scientific credibility and consumer confidence,”​ according to Lumina’s report.

Hudson added: “For me efficacy is key, so whatever manufacturers do, ensuring efficacy of probiotics in their products is key.”

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