Reasons to double down on digestive health

by Jeff Gelski
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Speakers and exhibitors at the SupplySide West meeting in Las Vegas Oct. 12-14 made investing in food and beverages that offer digestion benefits seem like a safe bet. Fiber and probiotic strains are key ingredients in such products while the juice category may be ripe for sales opportunity.

The leading growth cat-egories in health and wellness products tend to offer instant gratification instead of a promise of a long-term health benefit, said Ewa Hudson, head of health and wellness research at Euromonitor International, on Oct. 12 at SupplySide West. She put digestive benefits in the instant gratification area. Products promoted for digestive health had 2010 global retail sales of $63 billion to rank third among all health and wellness categories, according to Euromonitor. General well being, at $295 billion, was first and was followed by weight management, another instant gratification category, at $144 billion.

Euromonitor forecasts dig-estive health sales to grow by another $19 billion from 2010-15 and total health and wellness product sales to grow by another $175 billion.

Digestive health product sales in the United States, at $13 billion in 2010, led all countries, and Euromonitor forecast the U.S. market to grow to $20 billion by 2015. Ms. Hudson cited India as an opportunity for growth. While digestive health product sales there were less than $400 million in 2010, sales in India might grow by another $300 million by 2015.

Among all digestive health products, Cheerios led in 2010 global sales at $1.3 billion. Activia yogurt sales were at $600 million. New avenues for digestive health may come in spreads with probiotics or prebiotics, Ms. Hudson said. Sales also are growing for juice brands with either fiber or probiotics, she said.

Juices already have an inherent connotation of health and wellness and thus would fit in the probiotics category, said David Del Pozo, senior manager of R.&D. for The Coca-Cola Co (see related story on Page 1). He spoke Oct. 12 at an education session called “How and when does R.&D., product development, ingredient and marketing converge in building a beverage brand?” He added many consumers are unable to consume a lot of dairy products and might be looking for another way to add probiotics to their diet.

NextFoods, Boulder, Colo., already offers GoodBelly probiotic juice drinks. Organic GoodBellyPlus has 20 billion live and active cultures per serving as does GoodBelly probiotic coconut water. The juice drinks have Lactobacillus plantarum299v probiotic strains that help establish intestinal microflora balance.

Examples on the expo floor

Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark, promoted both its probiotic strains and fiber ingredients at its SupplySide West booth. In fact, a digestive health dairy shot featured both Howaru Bifido (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019) probiotic strains and Litesse (polydextrose) soluble fiber. Howaru probiotic strains offer the benefits of balanced microflora and improved bowel function, according to Danisco, while Litesse offers the benefits of a prebiotic effect and improved bowel function.

Danisco at SupplySide West also promoted an on-line fiber survey conducted this year by Lindberg International and involving 500 people. The survey found consumers associate eating fiber-containing foods with positive benefits such as improved digestive health, weight management and satiety. In the survey, 33% of all respondents reported experiencing at least one negative side effect, such as gas or bloating, from consuming fiber.

“These survey results emphasize the importance of choosing the best fiber when fortifying foods,” said Peggy Steele, global business director for Danisco. “They highlight the advantages of Danisco’s Litesse (polydextrose) soluble fiber. Litesse meets consumers’ key purchasing criteria while exhibiting exceptionally high tolerance, which means reduced gas and bloating compared to all other soluble fibers available on the market.”

Tate & Lyle, P.L.C., London, promoted its Promitor soluble corn fiber. It produces minimal to no gastrointestinal side effects and stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the large intestine while also minimizing the growth of undesirable bacteria, according to the company. Potential applications include beverages, dairy products, dressings, sauces, bars and baked foods.

National Starch Food Innovation, Bridgewater, N.J., sampled a pomegranate acai smoothie with Hi-maize 260 resistant starch, incorporated at 3.7%, and Nutriose FM06 soluble fiber, incorporated at 1.3%. The Hi-maize delivered 5 grams of fiber per serving in the formulation. The Nutriose delivered 2.5 grams of fiber per serving. Nutriose contains a minimum of 85% soluble fiber and is extracted from either wheat or corn. Hi-maize 260 resistant starch is a combination of slowly digestible starch and resistant starch.

Wild Flavors, Inc., Erlanger, Ky., incorporated Tegricel in a mixed berry fruit and vegetable drink at SupplySide West. Tegricel is made from milk peptides and bioactives. It is a natural defense against irritable bowel syndrome and irritable bowel disease, according to Wild Flavors.

Digestive health in the news

News items involving digestive health benefits in 2011 have ranged from scientific studies, to regulatory action to new production introductions.

Two studies involved probiotic strains from Danisco, Copenhagen, Denmark. The company and Fonterra Co-operative Group combined on a study that found daily consumption of Howaru Bifido (Bifidobacterium lactis HN019) decreased colonic transit time and improved functional gastrointestinal symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. The double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 100 people ingesting the probiotics or placebos for 14 days.

Another study involved the probiotic strains L. acidophilus NCFM and B. lactis Bi-07 and was published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. In the double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 60 people received twice a day either a combination of the probiotic strains or placebos. Results showed bloating systems were less severe in the probiotic group compared with the placebo group both at four weeks and eight weeks.

For the regulation news, a European Food Safety Authority panel concluded the cause-and-effect relationship cannot be established between the consumption of inulin-type fructans and the claimed effects of promotes/supports digestive health, improves bowel regularity and improves digestive/bowel function. The Beneo Institute, which originally submitted the claim, said work is ongoing to strengthen the scientific basis for fructan-type inulin.

Ganeden Biotech, Cleveland, found a home for its GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) in two new products. Foster Farms Dairy, a privately-owned dairy in California, applied GanedenBC30 to its Dairy Balance milk. Cedar’s Mediterranean Foods, Inc., Ward Hill, Mass., used the probiotic strain in its wrap and hummus.

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