Dispatches from the IPA World Congress

Sports nutrition offers big opportunities for $775M US probiotic supplement market

By Stephen Daniells in Universal City, CA

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sports nutrition, Bacteria, Probiotic

Sports nutrition offers big opportunities for $775M US probiotic supplement market
Sports nutrition offers a great opportunity to expand the $2.7 bn global probiotic supplement market, with products like Gaspari’s Myofusion leading the field.

Speaking at last week’s International Probiotics Association’s World Congress in Universal City, CA, Chris Schmidt from Euromonitor International revealed that the global retail value for probiotic supplements in 2011 was estimated at $2.7 bn, with 19% increase in growth.

The greatest growth year-on-year is in the US, with 22% or $140 million, followed by Italy with 20% growth (or $100 million).

Looking forward from 2011-2016, Schmidt said that both the US would be worth $1.5 billion, while Italy would be $798 million.

Pricing remains an issue for supplements, however, with probiotics tablets and capsules considerably higher in price than multivitamins, he said.

Sports nutrition

There are great opportunities for probiotics in the sports nutrition sector, he said, with Gaspari’s Myofusion Probiotic Series one example of a fast growing consumer brand.

The series uses Ganeden Biotech's BC30 strain, and Michael Bush, VP of business development at Ganeden Biotech, told NutraIngredients-USA that the company sees sports nutrition as a market that is in need of product innovation in several key areas, namely immune and gut health.  

“It is commonly understood that the type of training elite athletes put their bodies through often suppresses the body’s immune response, but that immune effect is seen in weekend warriors as well.  Additionally, nutritional supplementation, especially with large quantities of protein has a tendency to cause GI distress.  

“Ganeden is working with sports nutrition companies around the globe to provide solutions to those two primary issues through inclusion of GanedenBC30 in sports nutrition products.  We are also spending a fair amount of our resources studying applications and performing clinical work to identify further opportunities to help athletes,”​ said Bush.   

“There has also been work performed with other probiotics such as LGG showing benefits to endurance athletes.”


While the supplement sector lacks major global brands, the drinkable yogurt category is dominated by Dannon’s Activia and Actimel, and Yakult.

Schmidt said that 2011 had been a banner year for probiotic yogurt, with $25 billion in sales – this is more than the size of the global organic food market.

The greatest brand growth is being observed in the emerging markets, with Shuang Wai Wai (China), Chamyto (Brazil), and Yili (China) all experiencing impressive growth in the region of 40%. Unsurprisingly, Brazil and China are the biggest growth markets, with Brazil experiencing 33% growth year-on-year for drinkable yogurt.


Another area of great potential for the friendly bacteria is oral and functional confectionery, with functional gum predicted to grow 30% through 2016, said Schmidt.

“Developed markets are more sophisticated and more adventurous,”​ he noted.


According the FAO/WHO, probiotics are defined as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

However, the definition of probiotic in China is different from elsewhere: In China, a probiotic is defined as live or dead micro-organisms or their metabolites, said Dr Luo Xen Yun from the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety at the Chinese Center for Diseases Control and Prevention.

In addition, only a small list of bacterial strains are approved to be labeled as probiotics, including 6 Bifidobacteria, 14 Bactobacillus, 1 Streptococcus, 1 Propionibacteria, and 3 Lactococcus.

Only three health claims are allowed in China, added Prof Yun: Improve immune health (requires only animal data support); adjust intestinal flora (requires animal and human data support); and facilitating digestion.

All studies must be performed in Prof Yun’s institute to be allowed on to the market, she said.

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