Relevance of probiotics research increasing with US yogurt demand: Dannon

By Mark ASTLEY

- Last updated on GMT

Relevance of probiotics research increasing with US yogurt demand: Dannon

Related tags Probiotic

As the US yogurt market develops, research in the field of probiotics is ever more relevant, says US yogurt giant Dannon.

Last month, the Dannon Company - the US yogurt business of French dairy Danone - announced its fourth Yogurt and Probiotics Fellowship Grant.

Dannon, which boasts a brand portfolio that includes Activia and Oikos, considers the $25,000 scholarship part of its “continued commitment to support young scientists in the field of yogurt and probiotics."

Speaking with DairyReporter, Dannon’s senior director of public relations, Michael Neuwirth, and Miguel Freitas, the company’s vice president of health affairs, agreed that increasing US yogurt consumption and a greater consumer understanding of the benefits of probiotics make such research more relevant.

"...at this point in time, consumers have a much better understanding of how probiotics, fermented foods and 'good bacteria' benefit their health than previously,"​ they said.

“Consumers are incorporating more probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and others into their diet."​ 

“Much scientific research is still being conducted to better understand how probiotics work as well as to discover more varieties and benefits of probiotics. Research is also ongoing to discover more about the connection between the gut and the brain, and how certain probiotics can impact that connection.”

'Rapidly emerging research areas'

Probiotics research is increasing, according to US National Library of Medicine data cited by Dannon.

In 1997, around 80 research publications per year referenced probiotics. By 2011, this had increased to approximately 1,200 - or 100 publications per month. 

"Yet,"​ Neuwirth and Freitas said, "there are very few scholarships and grants available to help education in the field."

“The study of probiotics is one of the most exciting and rapidly emerging research areas."

"As a company leading the way in probiotic research and education, Dannon hopes to instill the same enthusiasm we have for probiotics in the next generation of scientists, and arm students with the skills necessary for this growing workforce," ​they said.

'Significant uptick' in applications

The Yogurt and Probiotics Fellowship Grant, launched in 2012, is awarded to a single incoming or current graduate student with a “strong interest in the research and nutritional value of yogurt and probiotics.”

Applicants must demonstrate academic achievement, relevant career objectives and "personal motivation within the field of yogurt and probiotics."

For its 2013/14 grant, the US yogurt maker saw a "significant uptick"​ in applications - an increase of over 100%.

Asked if growing US demand for yogurt played a part, Neuwirth and Freitas said: “Dannon continues to receive interest from students and universities in the program, with a consistent increase in participation since our first year executing the program."

"It’s unclear whether this is a direct correlation to the increase in microbiome research or yogurt demand, but nonetheless this year we hope to continue our upward trend," ​they added.

Related news