The success of marketing probiotic yogurt products such as Activia and Yakult means that American consumers are more aware of the importance of digestive health issues than ever before. Terms such as ‘l. casei immunitas’ and ‘l. casei shirota’, which at one time would mystify consumers, are now becoming more widely understood.
A new report from independent market analyst Datamonitor, Opportunities in Digestive & Immunity Health: Consumer Attitudes & Behaviors, shows that this is only the beginning of the digestive health movement. “U.S. Consumers are now more knowledgeable regarding the relationship between fiber and digestive health and are seeking out more ways of safeguarding their health with functional foods,” comments Mark Whalley, Consumer Markets Analyst at Datamonitor.
This is good news for the millions of Americans who suffer from digestive complaints such as heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. In 2008, nearly 59.9 million people complained of heartburn, and this figure expected to rise to almost 73 million by 2013 (amounting to nearly a quarter of the population).
Trust is less and less of an issue for American consumers, with only a minority (14.4%) telling Datamonitor that they firmly disbelieved the claims that these products make. This is not surprising given the fact that digestive health has only recently become a mainstream issue in the United States. In Asia Pacific countries such as Japan, the idea of drinking a daily Yakult is a far more normal and accepted part of life. As time goes on, the same culture is expected to develop across Europe and North America.
Manufacturers are responding to interest by incorporating probiotics into more foods that people eat everyday, including desserts such as ice creams and even tomato ketchup. What’s more, prebiotics, the lesser-known cousin of probiotics, are finding their way into a number of products, including breakfast cereals. It is this ease of consumption that is making digestive health regimes so appealing.
The future of foods and beverages which claim to improve digestive health is looking good. “People find these products appealing and, more importantly, they like how they taste. Digestive health has strong links with immunity health, which means that consumers feel better after eating their probiotic yogurts. This is what keeps them coming back for more. It’s therefore likely that, looking forwards, digestive health products will go from strength to strength,” concludes Whalley.
Learn more about the report, Opportunities in Digestive & Immunity Health: Consumer Attitudes & Behaviors