Probiotics are the fastest growing segment of the Nutraceutical industry. Across the world, people are flocking to consume probiotics in an ever expanding array of functional food products and supplements.
Probiotics deliver numerous broad-spectrum health benefits – from treating diarrhea and irritable bowel disease (IBD) to preventing cardiac diseases such as hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis. The ability of probiotics to improve overall wellbeing at all ages is the main factor behind its rapidly increasing share in the food and supplement market.
In this piece, we are going to analyze the boom in the global sales of dietary probiotic supplements, how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected the industry in terms of sales and production, and what the future holds; but, first, let’s see what probiotics are.
What are Probiotics?
The word “probiotic” literally means “pro/for life.” In terms of our health, probiotics generally refer to the “good” bacteria that are found in our gut. Research shows that these bacteria help support the digestive and immune systems by producing substances that keep their levels in balance, protect the intestinal lining, and help the two systems communicate with each other.
However, our internal probiotic reserves are easily depleted due to various factors, such as stress, aging, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, and the consistent use of antibiotics and acid-suppressing medications. This causes “dysbiosis,” a state of imbalance in the ratio of good-to-bad bacteria.
In efforts to rectify this depletion and provide a “natural” alternative to promote intestinal health, healthcare practitioners regularly recommend including more probiotic foods, or adding a daily probiotic supplement to the diet to help reinstate overall digestive balance and health.
Looking into the Facts and Figures of Probiotic Market
With a growth in probiotic awareness and its benefits, the global probiotics dietary supplement market is also seeing a significant boost in sales.
According to a report, titled Global Probiotics Products Market 2014-2018, by market research provider Reportstack, research and development in probiotics has increased notably. Subsequently, sales of probiotic products are predicted to see a 7.23% growth rate in the next five years, both nationally and globally. As per recent figures, the probiotic market is expected to reach $7.1 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 7.8%.
Reasons for the Boom in Probiotic Supplements
The number of individuals experiencing digestive health issues is rapidly growing; there are more than three million IBD sufferers in the U.S. and Europe alone, with a greater prevalence seen in high-income and industrialized countries. Hence, the main reason for the increase in probiotic sales is the increased interest in looking for natural methods to treat intestinal health conditions, such as IBD, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea, which are commonly caused by the excessive use of antibiotics.
Probiotic foods and supplements have also become popular due to their positive perception and versatility in application. For instance, scientific evidence suggests that probiotics could exert a positive effect not only on the digestive system, but also on the immune system, with a special focus on food allergies and intolerances. Hence, probiotic supplements provide a convenient, off-the-shelf solution in this regard.
Another reason for the rapid increase in the consumer base of health-boosting probiotics is their availability in a readily consumable format – ready-made functional drinks, ready-to-drink beverages, a wide range of supplements, and plant-based products for health-conscious and vegan individuals present probiotics as a highly alluring health-boosting remedy.
Additionally, probiotic supplements are a cost-effective and safe substitute for pharmacological remedies, which is also a major reason for their increasing sales and growing market share.
How Has COVID-19 Affected Probiotics Sales?
Currently, the global probiotic market is facing logistical and economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, these hurdles are not predicted to affect the demand for immune-boosting supplements and functional foods. In fact, probiotic supplements are becoming more popular during the pandemic, due to their various health benefits on the immune system, which is expected to aid their market growth.
In April 2020, the global probiotic leader Probi reported a substantial increase in sales of products, mainly due to the knowledge of their immune-boosting qualities. And these figures are expected to remain high as the spread of the virus continues.
What the Future Holds
So, what’s next for the probiotics market? As highlighted by Bill Gates, probiotics could help tackle malnutrition, and ongoing research at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to learn more about every individual microbial species and their roles in maintaining digestive and immune health. The foundation predicts to create what is called next generation probiotic products” within 10 to 20 years, featuring the best combinations of bacterial strains that help balance intestinal microbial population and promote optimum health.
Hence, further understanding the complexities of the human digestive system provides ample opportunities to determine how gut microbial activity can be adjusted to improve health across different demographic and geographical groups, helping curb malnutrition, common digestive ailments, and food allergies.