tion (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure). For example, many people with diabetes manage their sugar intake by eating foods that either lack sugar or are higher in whole grains. Compared to the total population, they eat more bread, eggs, soup, hot cereal, crackers, and seafood, and they eat fewer cookies, Italian dishes, pizza, “mac and cheese,” bars, toaster pastries, and brownies. Seifer noted that seniors (65 years and older) and older baby boomers (55-64) are more likely to experience medical conditions that drive the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and other foods perceived as nonharmful.
Expanding the user base of probiotics and prebiotics beyond those who have a need for additional microbes will require a marketing effort. Seifer referred to the “four P’s” of marketing: product, price, promotion, and place. In addition to alleviating some of the confusion that still surrounds use of the words “probiotic” and “prebiotic,” consumers may have to be educated on the health benefits of adding more microbes to their diet. “Be patient,” Seifer advised. “It is going to take time for this to catch on.”
The probiotic market is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the functional food market, according to Peggy Steele. In 2001, probiotics accounted for $25 billion in sales worldwide. The sector is expected to continue to grow at more than 6 percent annually, yielding an estimated $32 billion in annual sales by 2015. Regionally, North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and Asia Pacific are expected to see the strongest growth in coming years. Growth in the already mature markets of Western Europe and Japan will be slower.
Yogurts account for the majority of new products being launched as probiotics (about 75 percent), with the remainder including baby food and baby milk powder, drinks, cheese, other dairy (milk, cream, kefir), frozen desserts, and other products. The current U.S. market for probiotic yogurt is more than $1 billion, representing about one-quarter of the overall refrigerated yogurt segment. Over the past several years, the probiotic yogurt market has grown more quickly (10 percent) than the market for nonprobiotic yogurts (6.5 percent). “Yogurt is really the dominant delivery vehicle for probiotics right now,” Steele said. She referred to Darren Seifer’s remarks on the appeal of the health benefits of yogurt to consumers.
Yet as markets for probiotic yogurt and other products continue to grow, Steele observed a trend toward stricter regulation and enforcement of health claims on those products. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada,
2 This section summarizes the presentation of Peggy Steele.