Consumer interest in the digestive health space has grown in recent years, leading to fiber and probiotics being hot topics in the beverage industry.
Experts say: "As modern consumers increasingly seek ways to actively support their overall health in the short and long term, digestive health is coming to the fore. 76% of global consumers recognize a link between digestive health and overall health 68% of global consumers say they are interested in products that address digestive health concerns. At the same time, consumers recognize the importance of gut bacteria and how it can help achieve physical and mental health goals, especially as consumers pay more attention to balance in good health."
Improved digestion is one of the most important health benefits consumers seek when consuming it.
“As consumers learn more about their gut microbiome and its role in overall health, their interest in digestive health is on the rise. Research by FMCG Gurus found that nearly 80% of consumers recognize This link has risen by 10 percentage points since 2018. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that high fiber is one of the things consumers most want to see on product labels.”
Fiber claims on packaging could give beverage manufacturers an edge, experts say. “Since the digestive system is related to 70% of our immune system, it is important to have a healthy digestive system. More and more consumers are aware of this fact, and beverages are an easy way for them to get active ingredients that support digestive health. The more accessible information about fiber on-pack, the better, as it helps consumers make purchasing decisions. Manufacturers who are able to place nutritional and health claims on the front of the pack have a clear advantage."
Microbiome, gut health take center stage
While the link between fiber and digestive health has been of interest for a long time, experts point out that today's consumers are increasingly interested not only in the link between fiber and digestive health, but also in probiotics and their There is also growing interest in its role in promoting gut health.
Experts say that in the past, the focus has been on single ingredients that are beneficial to gut health -- such as fiber, which helps maintain bowel regularity -- and now, as more research has been done on the microbiome, people are starting to understand it. “Consequently, consumers are looking for supplements and products that include functional claims about gut health. We’re also seeing consumers link other claims, such as immunity, to overall gut health, as 70% of the body’s immune system is in the gut .”
Experts also noted that consumer awareness and interest in post-biologics is also growing. “Our latest consumer research found that nearly half (49%) of consumers are aware of post-biologics and 50% are willing to buy products made with post-biologics.”
A 2022 Cargill proprietary study revealed that consumers cited gut health as the number one reason they were interested in postbiologics, while balancing bacteria in the digestive system, boosting the immune system, being more health positive, and aiding digestion were A secondary factor in their interest in post-biologics.
In addition, younger consumers are showing increasing interest in digestive health. "Younger consumers are much more educated, and there are a plethora of research papers showing that fiber promotes gut health and the microbiome. The microbiome is responsible for much of our immune system and it also plays a role in controlling inflammation. So , consumers will be attracted to gut-healthy products rich in fiber."
Today, consumer demand for fiber and bio-solutions is on the rise as these ingredients not only aid in digestive health but also in overall health.
These ingredients have clear potential for continued growth, with recent market research forecasting a CAGR of 2022-2027 in the global business-to-business microbiome segment, including prebiotic and probiotic ingredients for food, beverages, and dietary supplements rate will reach 8.6%. Beverage brands that seize this opportunity to develop new functional products with bio-based solutions are sure to succeed among the ever-expanding segment of health-conscious consumers.
While dietary fiber has long been an important component of digestive health benefits, there is still a huge fiber gap, with more than 90% of women and 97% of men globally not meeting the recommended intake of dietary fiber. This leaves growth opportunities for beverage manufacturers.
what will happen in the future
While inflation continues to impact the beverage market, when it comes to functional drinks, experts say demand for such beverages that claim to be good for the digestive system remains strong.
“Inflation has affected the beverage market, but not in the way you might think. The brands and products that are seeing sales growth are those that claim functional health. Energy is the biggest claim right now, but gut health and hydration are also Driving sales in the beverage category. Probiotic sodas, in particular, are on the rise.”
While inflation may be a short-term issue, energy drinks have become a consumer necessity. "Overall, I believe energy drinks will continue to be a staple in the lives of many consumers, whether they are looking for digestive health or other benefits such as energy, recovery, weight management, protein/vitamins/minerals, etc. ...we can conclude that interest in digestive health ingredients and other delivery mechanisms in beverages will continue to increase as consumers gain more information about fiber's positive effects on the gut microbiome."
With the speed and volume of clinical research and increased consumer awareness, experts predict that products will become more personalized and optimized to suit individual needs at different life stages.
“We are already seeing child-focused products and claims of maternal health benefits flooding the market. As the population ages and diversifies, health claims will continue to be further specialized.”