The data from 16 countries was collected in 2021, and the company said results reflect a strong interest in learning more about probiotics among consumers worldwide, signaling a new chapter for market trends and an opportunity for players in the global food industry.
Chr. Hansen said consumers are aware robust gut health makes them feel better and supports immunity, and this awareness drives decision-making, creating motivation to learn more about which probiotics may offer the best outcomes for their individual needs.
In an effort to better understand the consumer experience when it comes to awareness and use of probiotics in food, Chr. Hansen designed a study to poll a representative sample of the general population in each country. In total, 16,000 people participated in the survey.
The survey showed 75% of those surveyed reported being very or somewhat familiar with probiotics, while 48% of respondents consume probiotics daily or almost daily, whether in supplements or in other foods.
Survey results suggest that probiotic consumption is driven by an interest in their functional benefits, such as promoting gut and immune health and supporting the microbiome.
The results also revealed 50% are familiar, or very familiar, with the term ‘gut microbiome,’ a highly relevant topic for consumers and is associated with health. The majority associate it with gut health followed by immune health, well-being and general health.
More than half of consumers have received a recommendation to consume probiotics from someone they trust, and internet research is the most popular way to learn more about probiotics. The flavor of the product and trust are top drivers for choosing and staying with a particular brand of probiotic food, Chr. Hansen said.
Despite reported awareness, the company said the survey showed there is a range of misconceptions about probiotics. For example, 47% of consumers agree or somewhat agree to the incorrect statement that all dairy yogurts contain probiotics (when in fact most contain live cultures but not all contain probiotic cultures).
Also, the study showed 71% of consumers would like to learn more about probiotics, and prefer packaging and online resources as avenues for deepening their understanding. Consumers are most interested in information regarding health benefits and information that helps them identify which probiotic strains to select, Chr. Hansen said.
“The results of our survey highlight the importance of consumer education and encourage continuing efforts to work with the industry to provide this education,” said Lars Bredmose, Chr. Hansen’s senior director of commercial development in food cultures and enzymes.
“At Chr. Hansen, we have worked to develop probiotic strain logos and trademarks that our customers may use to strengthen the credibility of their food with the world’s most-documented probiotics.”
Bredmose said the launch of the company’s Probiotics Institute in May 2021 offers a global, science-based platform to provides inspirational and educational content regarding probiotics and their relationship to the human microbiome, and added food producers and health practitioners can use the platform as a credible source of information about probiotics.
“We are proud of our work to bring the world’s most-documented probiotics to market and believe the opportunities to make them mainstream will only expand in the future,” Bredmose said.
“There are many more insights from the survey and we encourage our customers across the food industry to reach out to us for country-specific findings and a discussion of implications for their specific markets. We believe our survey findings point to a significant opportunity for producers in the industry who are willing to offer food products made with credible probiotic strains. We look forward to partnering with them to shape the future of the industry and help optimize the health of consumers around the world.”