NutraIngredients-USA’s Digestive Health Forum: 'Women aged 55-64 are the sweet spot for the market'

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

NutraIngredients-USA’s Digestive Health Forum: 'Women aged 55-64 are the sweet spot for the market'

Related tags Digestive health Probiotic Gut flora Lactobacillus

Younger women and men are the new targets for digestive health product manufacturers, with women aged 55-64 already dominating the market, according to experts at the NutraIngredients-USA Digestive Health Forum.

Some stats indicate that between 60 and 70 million Americans live with some kind of digestive issues, which is 20-22% of the population. But how are companies approaching the market? Is it all about probiotics? What about polyphenols? And what’s next for digestive health?

These questions, and more, were addressed during the forum, which was broadcast on Thursday, September 25 and can be accessed on demand HERE​.

To whet your appetite, here are some highlights from the debate, which featured experts from GoodBelly, Datamonitor, Increnovo, and the University of Rhode Island.

The forum was sponsored by Cargill, Nebraska Cultures, Nutraceutix, and Sabinsa.


Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director, Datamonitor:

Tom Vierhile, Datamonitor

“The global market for probiotics was $25 billion in 2013. We expect that grow to $35 billion by 2018, so that’s a pretty healthy 40% increase in that time period. That’s a CAGR of about 7%.”

“The main consumer group for probiotics is women with the 55-64 year old woman being the sweet spot for the market. According to a Datamonitor consumer survey in 2013, about 60% of consumers in this age group are trying to consume a moderate amount of probiotics, compared with only 39% for 18-24 year olds.

“There’s a big discrepancy between women and men – a 17 point difference between women and men in that same. Companies are trying to reach out to younger consumers, mostly women, and men. Michael Strahan is the new spokesperson for MetaBiotic, under the MetaMucil brand. It’s a new probiotic supplement, so you have a former New York Giant trying to bring more men in to the market.”​   

On synbiotics: “I think that most consumers would find synbiotics to be totally foreign to them. There will be very low levels of understanding. Even the term ‘prebiotics’, I don’t think many consumers actually get what that is. They may have heard the term, but I’m not sure if you had them define them that they would be able to.”

Alan Murray, CEO of NextFoods, makers of GoodBelly​:

Alan Murray, NextFoods

“GoodBelly is based on a Swedish probiotic juice drink called Proviva and the finders of GoodBelly, through their endeavors with Silk soymilk for heart health, we’re looking for their next venture and thought that gut health was the way to go.

“If you look at Proviva in Sweden, if we had to take the per capita consumption of Proviva and translate that to the US then you’re looking at a $2 billion brand.

“Addressing ​Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, it’s one of the most studied probiotics out there. We reference 16 different clinical trials that have been done with the product.”  

“We find ourselves in different areas of the supermarket. When we’re in the dairy section next to the yogurts then we’re the non-dairy alternative. When we find ourselves in the juice section, then we’re an upgrade to your morning juice.”

“Digestive issues are not related to a particular gender or age. One third of our consumers are coming because of digestive issues, one third have heard about probiotics being good for their immune system, and the final third have been told by their doctor or fitness trainer that they should include probiotics in their diet.

“Our per capita consumption of probiotics in the US is way below Europe, Asia, and even Mexico, but we are gradually getting used to this.”

“In 2003, 13% of Americans knew what a probiotic was, but they didn’t know if it was good or bad. By 2013 it was 31% and they knew they needed to get more of it.”

Dr Ralf Jäger, President of Milwaukee-based consultancy Increnovo, on digestive health clinical trials:

Ralf Jaeger
Ralf Jager, Increnovo

“We’re usually looking for end points and study designs that allow companies to make structure-function claims for their product. We’d have to show significant effects over the control in a placebo-controlled, double-blind randomized clinical trial in healthy volunteers. Typical endpoints bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heart burn, or gas. For end points we look at both subjective and objective measures.”

On ‘optimal’ synbiotics: “Many products on the market claim to contain synbiotics but they just randomly combine a probiotic and a prebiotic and call it a synbiotic. However, according to the definition a prebiotic has to increase the colonization of a probiotic. We systematically screened commercially available pre- and probiotics. Our data showed that for a ​Lactobacillus acidophilus, for example, the optimal combination was with a GOS, a trans GOS or a short chain FOS. Chicory inulin was also very effective, too.

“However for bifidobacteria, we saw an improvement with GOS and trans-GOS but not with the other prebiotics. The first products have already been launched using this work.”

Dr Navindra Seeram, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy at the University of Rhode Island, USA​:

Navindra 2
Navindra Seeram, University of Rhode Island

“Polyphenols are a very large class of plant compounds, they are probably the most ubiquitous class in fruit and vegetables. You can consume over one gram of these compounds a day.

“We have over 100 trillion different bacteria living in our gut, especially in the lower colon, and the relationship between gut microbiota and polyphenols becomes very interesting. Some of the review articles believe that this is a reciprocal relationship meaning that the polyphenols are probably modulating the bacteria and intestinal ecology. Some of the polyphenols are poorly bioavailable, and may act as antimicrobial agents and kill pathogenic bacteria, and may have a ‘prebiotic’ effect on good bacteria.

“It has also been shown that bacteria can convert many of these polyphenols into bioactive metabolites, and sometimes these are more bioactive than the parent molecules. Some of these can reach significant physiological concentrations.

“I don’t think we can ignore polyphenols for gut health.”

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