Year end review IPA 2022

Guest Article: The Year of Transition; securing the winds of change responsibly.

© DrAfter123 / Getty Images
© DrAfter123 / Getty Images

Related tags International probiotics association Probiotics microbiome Gut health GMP

As an observer of the dietary supplement industry for close to 20 years, it always felt we are shifting to accommodate “Winds of Change". There are always new concepts and ingredients which capture our attention even if it is for a small moment in time.

Referencing the song from the rock band “The Scorpions” albeit seen as nothing more than a rock ballad at the time, undertones suggested it was also used as an anthem to peacefully fuel the revolution during the cold war with the Soviet Union. Talk about conspiracy theories.

Nice segue for my reflections about the biotic revolution we are experiencing; currently moving at hyper speed with the microbiome being used at will for all things created from organisms.

At IPA we looked to understand how far back we were able to find any references to these bacterial communities. We created a nice infographic timeline​ with the literature and other sources going back as far as 9000 B.C.!

With such history behind us, should we not take a breath and think how this revolution can continue properly? Afterall, the microbiome trend is not only fascinating but also will create a paradigm shift in the way humans and their health coexist to ultimately transform their lives. We all have a responsibility to ensure it is carried out in a procedural way for us to be around another 9000 years.

IPA is looking into this from a multi-pronged approach. Our committees are aligned to ensure frameworks and structure are in place for a sustainable future and for the category to continue to thrive. Other than building on our Regulatory manuscript of 36 countries summary of probiotic regulations,​ we also have the IPA best practice guidelines for manufacturing probiotics​, which we are moving towards making these part of the ANSI 455 public standard for GMP manufacturing of dietary supplements, considering the uniqueness of probiotics.

Additionally, through our technical committee work, IPA just completed an application to establish a liaison with an ISO working group​ ensuring probiotic enumeration standards are validated and ISO certified. This being another step in the process making sure that the industry is raising the bar and quality and beneficial products are reaching consumers.

The IPA Science committee will continue to pursue the various manuscripts being worked upon in continuing to build the scientific backbone of our industry, and the IPA Education and communication committee will be looking at more succinct outreach to healthcare professionals and consumer outlets.

George screenshot cropped
George Paraskevakos

One of the many items being worked on is a web site specifically targeting these segments. Case in point, the thirst for products and education are relatively high as we are seeing a more preventive approach from consumers and their health. Online searches have jumped across all global regions with consumers looking for preventive approaches to their health. As reported by FMCG Gurus at the IPA Probiotic Resource Center during the Supply Side West conference this past November, 63% of consumers have made significant changes in their lifestyles to help boost their immunity and 73% of global consumers recognize the link between GI health and the immune system, both classical areas for probiotics and the published research.   

We had early indications that in 2022 via a custom report we will be delivering to our membership, that probiotics continues to be the largest non-herbal traditional supplement category with a global sales figure of US$8.2 Bn. Up from US$6.9 Bn last year and far beyond the forecasted US$7.4 Bn that we were supposed to hit in 2025.

From an e-commerce perspective, we continue to see probiotics as the number one VMS category on Amazon still growing at close to 50% YOY and looking at the global picture Lumina Intelligence has our category at a 15.5% YOY growth with an overall global market of US$1.7 Bn.

Let us not forget Europe, the continent which banned the use of the term probiotic saw the biggest jump in growth globally, where that region grew close to 25% YOY in e-commerce sales topping at US$225 mil. Overall, quite impressive figures but we need to stay prudent as we build upon our strengths.

Also the Codex work is back and after a 2 year hiatus we will be resuming the work for harmonized probiotic guidelines​ in 2023. Much needed standards for stakeholders to align and build from globally.

In closing, the IPA Strategic task force and their year and a half of work has culminated. With the new dawn of biotics, IPA will be looking at a revised scope for 2023 and beyond. It is time, as the lines seem blurred.

Reports show that consumers still seem to not fully understand the difference between pre, pro, post, and syn biotics, and stakeholders have no alignment on definitions and no frameworks for manufacturing or regulations seem to have been addressed for these new biotic terms.

With all these diverging concepts, I say let us all take a page from the probiotic book we have built and construct these new biotic categories using this as an example. Science to ensure a good base to build from, standards and practices to gain consumer and government confidence and acceptance, and above all alignment within the industry from all actors. The “Winds of Change” are truly upon us, so I call out to all stakeholders to align and make this transition year the base to continue building our legacy from.

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