Juicing digestive health

by David Phillips
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Juice drinks may be the next beverage category to reap the benefits of probiotics and the digestive health trend, according to an October 2009 report published by New Nutrition Business, London. The report stated juice drinks may be an untapped opportunity, and it identifies the successful European beverage ProViva as an example of a juice-based product that has gained international success in digestive health.

Launched in 1994, the ProViva digestive health drink has annual sales of approximately $2.1 billion, making it as large as PepsiCo’s Gatorade brand, according to New Nutrition Business. Its introduction in Europe may provide a roadmap for U.S. beverage manufacturers.

The ProViva brand is owned by Skånemejerier, a dairy processor based in Malmo, Sweden. The company sells both dairy-based beverages that feature probiotic cultures, under the Prima Liv brand, and the juice-based items. Since its European launch, the company has expanded the ProViva line into both the sports and women’s nutrition markets.

In the United States, a glance at the retail dairy case indicates a sea change has taken place in the market. Yogurts, both spoonable and drinkable that contain billions of probiotic cultures, have been pushed into the higher echelon of the category by the leading companies. The Dannon Co.’s DanActive probiotic shot has become one of the leading probiotic beverages in the United States, while other companies continue to find opportunities with probiotic dairy-based drinks.

In the juice beverage market there are smaller success stories as the category has begun to evolve. GoodBelly products from NextFoods, Boulder Colo., use the same Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299v) strain as the ProViva brand, and they are delivered by an organic juice base.

NextFoods is familiar with developing and selling dairy alternatives, with founder Steve Demos formerly with WhiteWave Foods Co., Broomfield, Colo., which developed the category-leading Silk soymilk brand. The brand is owned and operated by Dean Foods Co., Dallas.

NextFoods said the U.S. market is primed for juice-based beverages featuring probiotics.

“Probiotics continue to outpace the growth of other functional foods in the U.S. market and we see this continuing throughout the next decade as consumers become more educated about … digestive health and its impact on the immune system,” said Wendy Goldner, a spokesperson for NextFoods. “It’s incumbent upon probiotic manufacturers, however, to continue to build credibility with the consumer by promoting accurate information … including the strains, the dosage and the corresponding clinical data that prove the efficacy of their products.”

Should probiotic juices achieve traction in the United States, Minute Maid, the juice beverage unit owned by The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, may be ready to enter the segment. Minute Maid already offers Multifruit Probiotic Juice (Apple/Banana flavor) in Germany.

To capitalize on the emerging trend, Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark, has launched a global program that focuses on boosting immune health through refrigerated juices by adding Howaru Bifido, the company’s brand name for the Bifidobacterium lactis HN0019 probiotic strain. Test results have shown the probiotic strains survive in fruit juice for more than 40 days at 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit), said Marie Jane Fallourd, beverage group manager at Danisco.

At a glance

Some juice-based beverages featuring probiotics and sold in the United States include:


Introduced in 2008, all GoodBelly products are dairy-free, wheat-free and soy-free. New Big Shot 50 is said to provide 50 billion live & active cultures. www.goodbelly.com.

Naked Juice Tropical Mango Probiotic Smoothie

Naked Juice Co., Azusa, Calif., introduced the 100% juice smoothie in 2007.

phd Probiotic Water

A powdered probiotic with a shelf life of 6 to 18 months that is manufactured by Mass Probiotics L.L.C., Sudbury, Mass. The beverage is available in packets or ready-to-drink bottled water with dispersible ingredients contained inside the cap. The ingredients are released prior to consumption.

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