There is growing interest among consumers in verifying that the dietary supplements they take are safe and efficacious. Media outlets have questioned whether supplements truly are delivering the ingredients on the label. To maximize the potency and efficacy of dietary supplements—and to assure consumers—product developers and marketers must choose wisely not only when developing dietary supplements, but also in selecting the most appropriate packaging to ensure efficacy, prolong shelf life and get safely to market. As delicate, living organisms, probiotics represent the apex of this careful balance, as the viability and efficacy of probiotic supplements are directly tied to both conscientious handling and meticulous packaging practices.
Over the years, numerous reports have addressed the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, and clinical studies have acknowledged the potential of probiotic yeasts and bacterium to influence and benefit human health, especially in the areas of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), lactose intolerance and oral health. The functional aspect of probiotic products is rooted in balancing the proliferation of “good” and “bad” intestinal micro-biota, resulting in enhanced immune health and overall well-being. However, probiotics must be consumed in a live state in order to confer benefit.
There are many strains of beneficial probiotics that have different characteristics and benefits. Among the most popular strains are Acidophilus, Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces boulardii and Streptococcus thermophiles. Rising levels of consumer health consciousness has spurred the probiotic product market to expand from capsules and pills into functional food and beverage products.
According to a market study from Grand View Research Inc., the global market for probiotics is expected to surpass US$52 billion by 2020. Probiotic-enhanced foods and beverages currently dominate the application market and account for more than 80 percent of the total probiotics market, driven by growth of fermented meat, dairy, bakery, breakfast cereals, fats /oils, beverages, sh and eggs, meat, and soy products. However, dietary supplements are expected to be the fastest growing application segment, bearing an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7 percent from 2012 to 2020, with probiotics for human consumption accounting for the lion’s share of the total market.
Looking ahead, the firm expects labeling regulations—especially those in the United States and the European Union—to have a significant impact on market growth. Manufacturers have become increasingly savvy about the ingredients they use to formulate these products. By using ingredients with scientific backing, probiotic manufacturers are better able to safeguard product efficacy and reduce the risk of regulatory sanctions during the manufacturing process. But what about the next go-to-market phase?
The concern over whether consumers are getting the product as it is described on the label is rooted in one vital and transformative fact: probiotics are living organisms that are highly sensitive to humidity and oxygen. In the absence of proper handling and packaging, the efficacy of probiotic products can be compromised at any point of the packaging, storage and transportation process, inversely impacting shelf life and product viability and efficacy for the consumer. Due to the concern, federal regulators are closely monitoring to determine whether probiotic products meet all label claims with appropriate substantiation and that they reflect the ingredients on the label.