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The Best of Both Worlds: Synergetic MarketingThe Best of Both Worlds: Synergetic Marketing

Synbiotics combine pre- and probiotics for added value

Sandy Almendarez

July 10, 2013

4 Min Read
The Best of Both Worlds: Synergetic Marketing

With all these health benefits and careful manufacturing planning, the market for synbiotic products is increasing. Mihalik pointed to the growing recognition that premium probiotic products should also include a prebiotic. It is more of an evolution of an existing market rather than a growth of a new market," he said.

The probiotic market is indeed strong; much stronger than the prebiotic or the synbiotic markets. Probiotic sales reached USD$3.4 billion in the U.S. food, drug and mass merchandiser channel during the 52 weeks ending April 13, 2013, while prebiotic products were at $334 million and synbiotics hit 69 million, according to SPINS. Still, the numbers of synbiotic products are growing the fastest; in these 52 weeks, sales of synbiotics were up 61.5 percent. For comparison, probiotic sales increased by 11.6 percent and prebiotic sales declined by 10.8 percent.

"While there's been a steady growth trajectory for gut health products containing probiotics for many years now, the awareness of prebiotics has lagged, affecting sales," Robinson said. "This is because consumers cannot keep many new concepts in their heads, and the terms probiotics and prebiotics are difficult for consumers to differentiate. Growth in this area, therefore, will come from the effective communication of the real benefits of combining probiotics/prebiotics, not necessarily in the growth of awareness of 'synbiotic' formulas."

Creating the Synergy

Effective communication of synbiotics' health benefits is necessary, but so is creating delivery forms consumers want to use. Yogurt is the best known probiotic delivery system because of its history of use, and other dairy items such as cheese, fermented milks or powder milks have also made good inroads in this market. "Yogurt is inherently a good delivery system, because the probiotics are added to the yogurt after any heating of the product has occurred, and are kept cool through transit and storage," Deaton said.

But capsules provide a highly concentrated probiotic formulation that can be quickly taken, Deaton continued. "Capsules are also a better choice for the more calorie-conscious consumer, since they dont provide added calories to the diet as yogurt would," he said. "Capsules also offer a good solution to those consumers who are sensitive to dairy and arent able to eat yogurt."

Capsules are still popular, according to Mihalik, though chewable tablets are the most user-friendly synbiotic option NEC markets, he said.

"The best delivery forms are still capsule and powder supplement products," agreed Michael Shahani, chief operations officer, Nebraska Cultures Inc.  "Dry drink mixes are another good vehicle. Baked goods are a poor delivery form for probiotics, since most probiotics die at high temperatures." However, he noted the ProDURA B.  coagulans has been shown to live up to 110° C for a short time so it can be used in applications that use heat.

Chr. Hansen's combination of probiotics and beneficial fibers has been available in a 6-g stick with powder to be sifted over breakfast cereals or poured into a glass of water once or twice daily. The products, OptiBac Probiotics, from Wren Laboratories Ltd. in the U.K. Yovis Regola in Italy are a combination of Bifidobacterium BB-12® and fiber.

The next big place for synbiotics is the functional food market, but it's not without challenges. "Functional food and beverages are still limited due to incompatibility of probiotics with acidic medium, waters or heat-related processes," Spell said. "It seems that technologies are available for bypassing these issues like microencapsulation or final inclusion of bacteria in the product (bread, chocolate, juices), but stability data are limited."

But that doesn't mean synbiotic foods aren't on the market. With self-affirmed GRAS (generally accepted as safe) status, Anurag Pande, Ph.D., vice president, scientific affairs, said Sabinsa's LactoSpore® has found its way into breads and yogurt mixes. "People are now more keen on introducing this product in variety of foods and delivery systems such as gummies, candies, chewables and beverages."

Newcomers in the synbiotic market are juices, Starburst-like chews, drink mixes and the advanced pressed chewing gums, Middelbos predicted.

More research backing the combination of pre- and probiotics synergistically combined with manufacturing developments in bioavailability and stability is sure to spur more delivery of synbiotic products. The number might not quite be as much as the number of bacteria in our guts, but it will be impressive, nonetheless.

About the Author(s)

Sandy Almendarez

editor in chief, Informa

Sandy Almendarez entered the natural products industry in 2009 when she joined Virgo Publishing (now Informa Exhibitions) as an assistant editor. Since then, she's worked her way up to editor in chief where she writes, edits and manages content for INSIDER. Under Sandy’s direction, INSIDER has won editorial awards from Folio: every year since 2014, including B2B Editorial Team of the Year in 2015.

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