Prebiotics are dietary fibers which are soluble in water and digested by gut bacteria (called soluble dietary fibers); and those which are insoluble in water but fermentative in the large intestine, like resistant starches. Some examples of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS)/oligofructose, galactooligosaccharides (GOS), xylooligosaccharides (XOS), inulin, isomaltooligosaccharides (IMO), beta-glucan and psyllium husk.
(Source: David Heber, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.S.N.; UCLA)
Prebiotic activity has long been known, but was first described in a 1995 Gibson and Roberfroid J. Nutr. study: “A prebiotic is a nondigestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host health.” The definition has been tweaked many times through the years, whether by various researchers (sometimes even Gibson and Roberfroid!), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) or the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP).
(Source: Robert Hutkins, Ph.D.; University of Nebraska)
Prebiotic Human Clinical Trials
Orally administered prebiotics have been the subject of many human clinical trials, conducted in subjects ranging from infants to the elderly. Some examples of the prebiotics studied include inulin, GOS, FOS, lactulose and polydextrose. The health end points span metabolic health, satiety, bone health, digestive health, immune health, skin health and more.
(Source: Robert Hutkins, Ph.D.; University of Nebraska, citing Gibson et al., 2017)
Prebiotic Food & Beverage Positioning Trends
Current positioning trends in prebiotic food and beverage consumer packaged goods (CPGs) include digestion (also the No. 1 positioning for supplements), immunity, mood, weight management, plant-based and flour alternative.
(Source: Kara Landau, APD, AN; Uplift Food)
New Launches in Prebiotic Products
When comparing new product launches at Expo West 2016 and 2018, New Hope Network’s NEXT Trend database showed a 118 percent increase in snack, energy and granola bars with prebiotic positioning. Various categories of supplements as well as energy, protein and muscle recovery drinks with prebiotics saw a 63 percent increase.
(Source: Len Monheit, Global Prebiotic Association, citing NEXT Trend data)
Prebiotic Supplement Sales and Channel Growth
Prebiotic supplement sales and growth by channel are projected to continue seeing double- and triple-digit percentage increases through 2020. The data includes natural & specialty retail, mass market retail and direct-to-consumer (D2C).
(Source: Len Monheit, Global Prebiotic Association, citing Nutrition Business Journal [NBJ])