BELOIT, WIS. — Demand for probiotics is growing as digestive health moves up the consumer agenda, according to a survey from Kerry.

The company surveyed more than 13,000 consumers in 16 countries and found 24% had used a product containing probiotics over the past six months, up from 21% in 2019. Forty-four percent said they would consider doing so, up from 40% in 2019.

Nearly half (47%) of global respondents were aware of probiotics or cultures, compared to 42% in 2019, when the survey was last conducted. Awareness was highest among consumers in Latin America (63%) and North America (61%).

The findings suggest demand for probiotics is linked to growing interest in digestive health, which consumers ranked as third on their list of reasons to purchase healthy lifestyle products, up from fourth two years ago. Thirty-eight percent of consumers said they used a digestive health product over the last six months, almost as high as the number who reported using an immune health product (39%).

Several factors are driving continued growth in demand for gut health solutions generally and for probiotics in particular, said John Quilter, vice president of Kerry’s global ProActive Health portfolio.

“Demographic changes such as population aging and lifestyle choices have increased the prevalence of digestive disorders, while the pandemic has accelerated the shift toward more proactive approaches to health,” he said. “As a result, consumers want to see functional ingredients in their favorite food and beverage products, and they’re increasingly well educated about the role of probiotics and their ability to support both digestive health and overall wellness. Manufacturers who formulate functional foods and beverages using science-backed probiotic strains can therefore meet a range of market needs.”

The survey found food and beverage products commonly consumed at breakfast are most closely associated with digestive health. Four-in-ten respondents globally said they would be interested in purchasing yogurts containing ingredients with digestive health benefits. Other categories strongly associated with digestive health included fruit and vegetable juices (31%), dairy-based drinks (31%) and breakfast cereal/granola (28%).

The survey also asked consumers about BC30, Kerry’s patented spore-forming probiotic ingredient. Respondents were shown the BC30 logo and an image of products in which it can be found. When asked which benefits they perceived the ingredient to deliver, 45% chose digestive health and 45% chose immune support. After being given more information about BC30, 80% found its communicated benefits to be believable, according to Kerry.