These sales were not easily won as probiotic suppliers faced resistance in North America, where the concept of 'friendly bacteria' did not take off as quickly as in Europe. Manufacturers have anecdotally commented that the sector as a whole has benefitted from dairy giant Dannon's Activia marketing campaign.
Thus this latest announcement from Dannon shows promise for probiotic suppliers and formulators - now that the leader of the pack is pushing even farther forward and bringing probiotics into niche markets.
Among other things, probiotics are hailed for their potential to minimize LDL or "bad" cholesterol as well as for supporting optimal digestive functioning.
Since Activia's launch in January 2006, it has surpassed $100m in retail grocery sales in the US. Dannon cited the global sales of probiotics yogurts and dairy drinks market are valued at approximately $10bn and this figure it set to grow.
"The successful launch of Activia in the United States proved to us that Americans are looking for healthier food choices with clinically proven, peer-reviewed functional benefits without sacrificing great taste," said Dannon CEO Juan Carlos Dalto.
Activia is a lowfat probiotic yogurt containing Dannon's proprietary probiotic culture, which the company says has been clinically shown to help regulate the digestive system when eaten daily for two weeks.
"…we believe that these 'better for you products' are convincing more people to eat cultured fresh dairy products on a regular basis and enjoy their nutritional benefits," said Dalto.
The three new probiotic-delivering products Dannon announced it is introducing in 2007 are Activia Light nonfat yogurt, DanActive dairy drink and Danimals with Lactobacillus GG( LGG). These new ranges for the US reflect an effort on the company's behalf to bring probiotics to specific sectors - such as child nutrition and weight management - which other companies may follow in due course.
In early 2007, Dannon will extend its Activia line with the launch of Activia Light - a fat-free, reduced calorie version of the probiotic yogurt.
Set to launch in January 2007, DanActive is a cultured probiotic dairy drink geared towards strengthening the body's defenses when consumed daily. DanActive contains the proprietary probiotic L. casei Immunitas culture.
Previously only available in test markets in the US, DanActive is sold to the sound of more than six million bottles a day around the world. The drink was first introduced in Europe in 1994 and later Asia under the brand name Actimel.
With the introduction of Danimals with LGG,/I>, Dannon is looking to deliver its probiotics to children. Starting in January 2007, Danimals Drinks and Danimals XL varieties will also not contain artificial colors, artificial flavors or and high fructose corn syrup.