Digestive health ingredients on the rise in Europe

by Jeff Gelski
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LONDON — An analysis released Dec. 9 by Frost & Sullivan estimates the digestive health ingredients market in the European Union may reach $536.5 million in 2015, which compares with $245 million in 2008. The market segments include prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes. The digestive health product segment accounted for 68% of sales in 2008 in the European Union approved functional food market.

“The European market for digestive health ingredients is at the growth stage, and new product launches are frequent and numerous,” said Sridhar Gajendran, Frost & Sullivan industry analyst. “Products for digestive health are available in both the functional foods and the dietary supplement segments, with the former having a relatively larger share in terms of both volume and value in 2008.”

Functional foods for digestive health are available in the forms of dairy products, fortified beverages, baked foods, cereals and convenience foods. Potential in penetrating different application sectors has the category poised for healthy growth, according to Frost & Sullivan.

“Increased prices have positively impacted market revenues,” Mr. Gajendran said. “The extension of applications to meat and fish categories has further stimulated growth.”

The prebiotics segment likely will drive the digestive health ingredients market. Dairy accounts for 50% of prebiotic products in the E.U. market, and a growing number of breakfast cereal manufacturers use prebiotics.

The relatively high cost of probiotics may prove to be prohibitive, especially as E.U. consumers adjust to the economic situation.

“Nevertheless, the growing trend for digestive health and consumers’ keenness to offset rising health care costs will likely counterbalance the negative effects of the economic recession,” Mr. Gajendran said. “Moreover, as demand and production volumes for probiotic products grow, manufacturing costs will decrease.”

The high cost of clinical trials presents another challenge.

“Drawing attention toward informative marketing tactics to educate a wide range of consumers about the benefits of digestive health products will effectively boost consumption,” Mr. Gajendran said. “At the same time, all available opportunities should be assessed to make more expansive claims when marketing products with strong digestive health credentials.”

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