ing years: the demand for personalized or categorized nutrition based on individual- or group-level microbiome variations.
Added to the many scientific challenges to realizing the potential of microbiome-targeted dietary intervention as a means to health, speakers also addressed the market and regulatory challenges to realizing that potential. When probiotics were first introduced into the marketplace, consumers were confused, according to Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for the NPD Group. For example, according to data collected by the NPD Group, in 2006 more adults were trying to cut down on or avoid probiotics (13 percent) than to get more probiotics into their diets (10 percent). Although the trend has shifted, with more adults in 2010 trying to get probiotics into their diets (24 percent) than avoid them (10 percent), there is still some confusion around the word “probiotic.” “Prebiotic” is even more difficult. This confusion is just one component of the challenge of changing consumer behavior. Although changing consumer behavior around food is difficult, it can be done. Seifer summarized market research showing that consumers respond to changes that make foods easier to prepare, newness, and the idea of enhancing and not restricting one’s diet.
According to Peggy Steele, global business director in the Nutrition and Health Division of DuPont, the probiotic market is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the functional food market. Yogurts account for the majority of new products (75 percent) being launched as probiotics. Over the past several years, the probiotic yogurt market has been growing at about 10 percent annually. The question is, Will that growth persist as the regulatory environment becomes more challenging to maneuver and as manufacturers and marketers are no longer able to make the same type of claims about their products that they have been able to make in the past? Steele suggested three general types of actions that industry can take to help drive continued growth in probiotics in the face of a changing regulatory landscape: (1) conduct efficacy studies to help the scientific and regulatory communities recognize the effects of probiotics on human health (e.g., Ouwehand et al., 2008); (2) educate doctors, nutritionists, key opinion leaders, and journalists to communicate the results of human studies conducted on probiotics; and (3) explore new end points (e.g., new health end points, effects in different populations) (e.g., Amar et al., 2011; Ibrahim et al., 2010; Makelainen et al., 2009).
The changing regulatory landscape around health claims for food products is arguably most visible in the European Union. Seppo Salminen, professor of health biosciences and director of the Functional Foods Fo-