Datamontinor’s Productscan database last month recorded a number of new probiotic and omega-3 product launches in the US, which it says continues to demonstrate that “no stone has been left unturned in the quest for consumer business in the health sphere”.
Probiotics, or healthy bacteria, were off to a slow start when they first appeared on the market, due to the challenges related to incorporating them into food products.
The bacteria will only deliver benefits if they are alive, which means that manufacturers need to ensure the ingredients survive processing and storage conditions. This has meant that probiotics were traditionally used in a limited range of products.
However, heightened R&D efforts coupled with increasing science has meant that the ingredients are starting to appear in new categories, and that the market has picked up pace.
Datamonitor’s Productscan recorded 523 new stock keeping units (SKUs) globally in the probiotic foods and beverages sector last year. Datamonitor classifies SKUs as all of the different sizes, flavors, varieties and packages of products.
This compares to 361 SKUs recorded in 2006, and 282 in 2005. Prior to that, there were 187 SKUs recorded in 2004 and 153 in 2003.
So far, there have been 377 SKUs recorded in 2008.
The market researcher this week said that August launches in the US included a new probiotic ketchup and a probiotic salsa from Zukay Live Foods, which the group says is a “novel addition” as this type of product is not normally associated with live cultures.
Other new probiotic products launched in earlier months include a frozen yogurt product, launched in Canada by Chapman. The product contains two active probiotic cultures: lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium lactis, and a soy beverage by White Wave Foods in Canada. The firm's Silk Fortified drink states on its packaging that it contains the NuraFlora probiotic.
Omega-3, a healthy lipid, has gained status as a ‘buzz’ ingredient on the back of science linking it to a wide range of health benefits, including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and certain cancers, joint health, and improved behavior and moods.
However, the ingredient has not come without its challenges to food and beverage manufacturers looking to add it to their products. Fish oil is considered to be the best source of omega-3, but is notoriously difficult to incorporate into formulations since it is highly susceptible to oxidation. The result is a fishy taste and smell which can be off-putting for consumers.
In order to help people consume omega-3 in their diet - and especially those who have an aversion to fish - formulators have sought to overcome the stability issues and deliver food products that are untainted by sensory issues.
On the back of developments in this field, more and more omega-3 products started appearing on the market. According to a report published recently by Packaged Facts,
worldwide launches of products containing omega-3s increased by 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2007.
Indeed, Packaged Facts found that omega-3 enriched foods make up the strongest sector of the functional foods market in the US - and said there is still room there for significant growth. The market for these goods has grown from approximately $100m to more than $2bn in four years. The firm predicts this category will reach $7bn in sales by 2011.
According to Mintel, more than 1,000 products were launched worldwide in 2006 containing omega-3, with the biggest sectors coming from dairy, bakery and processed meats and fish.
In the past five years more than 3,000 omega-3 products have been launched worldwide, although the majority of these have been in Europe.
The latest data from Datamonitor’s Productscan highlighted a new omega-3 canola oil from JM Smucker, which is promoted as the first canola oil with omega-3 DHA. The group also highlighted an omega-3 fortified peanut butter launched in the US by Hearts&Minds, which claims to be the first peanut butter containing omega-3 and olive oil.