The prebiotic yogurt category – not to be confused with the similarly-named probiotic group – has had little investment from yogurt manufacturers, according to Datamonitor report, Consumer and Innovation Trends in Yogurt.
Despite this, research conducted by the firm suggests that there is increasing demand for prebiotic-enhanced products.
The report, which outlines consumer and product trends impacting the global yogurt category, claims that around one third of consumers agree that products containing prebiotics have a significant influence on their purchasing decisions.
Prebiotics occur naturally is high-fibre foods such as onions, bananas and garlic, but can also be synthesized and added to foods including yogurt.
They remain undigested until they reach the large intestine, where they encourage the growth of helpful bacteria by acting as a food for them to eat, which can help improve gut health.
Datamonitor consumer business unit associate analyst, Tanvi Savara told DairyReporter.com that despite this huge consumer demand, many manufacturers are yet to even consider the development of a prebiotic offering.
“There is a massive opportunity here for the industry to tap in to. There is huge demand for yogurt containing prebiotics but it is not currently being met,” said Savara.
“Typically there are a huge number of probiotic yogurt offerings on the market, rather than pre-biotic – even though there is significant demand for pre.”
In recent years, probiotic health claims have been called into question, with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) ruling in 2010 that they were not supported by sound science.
Prebiotic-enhanced products have suffered no such setback, with research suggesting that they can help boost calcium absorption and relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and lactose intolerance.
“This could be a huge opportunity for functional yogurt manufacturers. There is no evidence of manufacturers looking to enter this market at the moment, but there is huge market potential here,” said Savara.
Demands ‘go unheard’
The report outlined other areas for potential yogurt market innovation –pinpointing older demographic demands, which have until now gone unheard, according to Savara.
“There is also a great opportunity to target an older demographic, through the addition of calcium and vitamin D to yogurt. At the moment, our research reveals that there are very few products of this nature targeted at that demographic.”
Elsewhere, US demand for Greek yogurt products shows no sign of slowing in the near future, added Savara.
“In the immediate future, yes the Greek yogurt market will continue to dominate in the US. In fact the success of brands such as Chobani has driven others to launch their own products in the Greek yogurt category,” she concluded.