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Report: Probiotics Surge in Popularity

<p>Increased interest in functional foods and greater opportunity at retail are contributing to market potential for probiotic beverages.</p>

Beneficial bacteria have long been a component of the international beverage and home-brewing scene; however, only in recent years have they gained momentum in the U.S. marketplace. Despite the technological and supply-chain challenges in bringing effective, desirable products to consumers, recent innovations are opening doors to more mainstream acceptance.

In "Probiotics Surge in Popularity," a free Report from SupplySide Beverage Insights, several experts weigh in on the rising trend. Michael Bush, senior vice president at Ganeden Biotech, Inc., provides an overview of the category, along with the complexities faced by formulators when working with live bacteria. Once relegated to the fermented dairy drink kefir, the U.S. market for probiotic beverages is booming, with new refrigerated offerings in everything from kombucha to breakfast drinks and juices, as well as expansion to hot favorites such as coffee and tea. The technology and innovation are rising rapidly to meet increasing consumer demand.

Board-certified gastroenterologist and internist Roshini Raj, M.D., examines beneficial bacteria beyond digestive health, pointing to probiotics' additional potential to positively impact immunity, weight loss and even skin health. She reminds beverage manufacturers that all bacteria are not created equal, and to use caution in selecting strains, supporting claims with research and labeling products appropriately.

It is also important that the delivery system maintains the integrity of the probiotics. Brian Direen, an original founder and chief business officer of Unistraw International, further explains the straw delivery system and how its innovative approach disrupted the status quo in probiotic beverages.

Gary Hawes, CEO of Makana Beverages (producers of TheBU Kombucha), also shares an update on kombucha—one of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage industry for the past several years. The fermented tea has long been a staple in the natural channel, but is now expanding into conventional grocery and other mainstream outlets.

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