KANSAS CITY — The percentages appear to favor more probiotic ingredients entering the market for food and beverage formulation in the coming years.

“Most probiotics on the market today are strains of Lactobacilli or Bifidobacteria, while these only make up approximately 2% of the gut microbiome,” said Johan van Hylckama Vlieg, Ph.D., vice-president of microbiome and human health innovation at Chr. Hansen, Hoersholm, Denmark. “Only recently did we start to mine the remaining 98% of the bacteria for probiotic strains, and these are also referred to as next generation probiotics.

“These also may express a number of activities that are relevant for probiotic activity that cannot be found in current probiotics. A well-known example of the latter is the production of butyrate, a compound generally regarded as beneficial for health, and in reality we are only starting to scratch the surface of their functional potential.”

Chr . Hansen in June 2017 reported that, out of more than 1,000 screened strains from the human microbiome, it had identified a subset of 100 strains that could be developed for an array of indications associated with gastrointestinal, immune and metabolic health.

Developing probiotics for the commercial market may take years. Dr. Vlieg said the process involves a scientific definition of the activities that a strain should have for the targeted benefit; a laboratory screening campaign to select the strain with desired activities out of a library of hundreds to thousands of candidate strains; preclinical validation of the potential of the selected strain; development of a process to produce the strain; and clinical benefit demonstration in one or more studies.

“The time for the full trajectory will depend on the bacterium to be developed, the benefit area and the level of clinical documentation that is targeted but will typically take several years,” he said.

DuPont Nutrition & Health, now part of DowDuPont, Wilmington, Del., in November 2017 announced the creation of a microbiome venture. As part of the venture, DuPont Nutrition & Health in March of this year formed a research and development partnership with the Center of Food and Fermentation Technologies in Tallinn, Estonia. The partnership will focus on developing cultivation and bioprocess capabilities for next generation probiotics.

“Building on DuPont Nutrition & Health’s probiotics leadership position and recent launch of human milk oligosaccharides, the microbiome venture aims to develop next generation microbiome science-based solutions for human health and wellness, including new strains for maternal and infant health, next generation probiotics and other solutions for a number of health benefit areas and exploring the molecular mechanisms of action of current probiotics,” said Andrew Morgan, a DuPont Fellow and chief scientist for DuPont Nutrition & Health with a Ph.D. in microbial biochemistry and genetics from the University of Sussex in England.

A typical launch cycle for new probiotic ingredients is about 12 to 18 months, said Stephanie Udell, global product marketing leader — probiotics for DuPont Nutrition & Health and based in Madison, Wis.

“Pre-clinical and clinical trials often occur prior to when the commercialization process begins, as well as some continued study of our strains post launch,” she said. “To develop consumer and market driven products, we use a stage-gate process that includes market research, rigorous safety testing, ensuring regulatory compliance and industry leading product quality.”

Ganeden, Inc., now part of Kerry Group, P.L.C., Tralee, Ireland, continues to make inroads with its GanedenBC30 (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) ingredient. The ingredient, while on the market for years, shows how probiotic ingredients may differ. GanedenBC30 has a natural protective shell that shields it from both stomach acid and most food-processing conditions, including heat, shear, H.T.S.T. (high-temperature, short-time) and H.P.P. (high-pressure processing) pasteurization, said Michael Bush, executive director at Kerry for Wellmune and GanedenBC30. The shell allows manufacturers to integrate probiotics into more food and beverage products.

“In the U.S., probiotics were popularized by the dairy category, with more than half of all yogurt sold being fortified with probiotics, but growing demand for digestive health and functional products is diversifying the offerings available,” Mr. Bush said. “In fact, we are seeing a similar pattern the world over. Thanks to the emergence of more robust, spore-forming strains of probiotics like GanedenBC30, it’s now possible to formulate probiotics successfully into a wide selection of non-dairy products, including healthy snacks, R.-T.-D. beverages and even hot drinks.”