As a number of manufacturers announce mixed fortunes in the market for probiotic goods, one leading supplier believes the segment lies very much in the middle ground between established and emerging food products.
Michael Neuwirth, a senior publications director for Dannon told NutraIngredients-USA.com that probiotic products were available at grocery aisles up and down the country, posting the highest sales growth across the yogurt segment.
However, Neuwirth said that greater understanding and consumer communication are required to educate on the potential nutritious benefits of using probiotic products in food and drinks.
The claims come as Dannon, which represents the interest of Danone in the US, today announced an expansion to its Activia range of probiotic products into two new formats with a yogurt drink and an added fiber product.
The extension, which the company says is the second of its kind since Activia was first launched in the US back in 2006, will, like the rest of the range, target digestive health.
Hard to cheese
Just last week, the US arm of dairy and food manufacturer Kraft reportedly accepted that its probiotic cheese was not setting consumer imagination alight in the nation.
The company has marketed a probiotic cheese and cottage cheese under it LiveActive probiotic foods range for nearly two years, but its chief executive officer, Irene Rosenfeld, slated the product publicly recently.
“It turned out to be a disappointment to us,” Reuters reported Rosenfeld saying during a recent interview at the Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference.
While Activia as a brand is not available in a cheese variety, Neuwirth said that he was unsure of the importance that format has on consumer preference in the probiotic market.
The spokesperson claimed instead that proven clinical research and taste had been a major part of what Dannon believed has been a successful launch for its probiotic brands.
Neuwirth added that investment in promoting the possible nutrition benefits of probiotic goods specific to product type or category would be an important area for the segment.
While the North American probiotics market appears to be in the initial stages of sudden growth, awareness of the bacteria and their health benefits is still very low.
A survey conducted in August 2008 found that the vast majority of Americans know nothing about probiotics, suggesting more education efforts could help boost an industry still in its infancy.
The national survey, carried out by Opinion Research Corporation, revealed that only 15 percent of American adults were familiar with the healthy bacteria.
The survey, which involved telephone interviews with 1000 adults in the continental US, reported that 85 percent of respondents knew “little to nothing” about probiotics.