Clever packaging can help consumers grasp prebiotic health benefits – SIG Combibloc

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Nestlé Mexico's prebiotic fibre dairy product, Svelty Total Digest
Nestlé Mexico's prebiotic fibre dairy product, Svelty Total Digest

Related tags: Probiotic

Packaging concepts that meet key ‘information delivery’ demands are important to drive consumer awareness of the little-known benefits of categories such as prebiotics and probiotics, according to carton packaging and filling firm SIG Combibloc.

Increasingly, consumers were prioritising health considerations such as adequate hydration when choosing drinks, SIG said, adding that beverages with prebiotic fibres were especially healthy because they stimulated the growth and activity of probiotic bacteria strains.

Such strains have been linked to better digestion and the build-up of intestinal microflora, but Patrizia Wegner, global market segment manager, Liquid Dairy, at SIG Combibloc warned that “few consumers are sufficiently aware”​ of the link between probiotic cultures, prebiotic fibres and their effect on the human organism.

“While most consumers do associate health issues with these terms, only a handful know what they really mean. The current trend is that, on the whole, consumers want to know as much as possible about the foods they’re eating,"​ she said.

Avoid information overload

QR codes, websites and phone hotlines all catered for this demand, SIG said, but the company said that product packaging was also useful as a communication medium to “blend attractive, attention-grabbing design elements and information delivery”​ without feeding consumers too much data.

“The awareness that people want to be informed shouldn’t result in consumers being overloaded with messages. What is needed are concepts that are target group specific.”

In this respect, SIG asserted that cartons have an advantage over other packaging mediums that rely on narrow labels or banderoles, since four display surfaces allow brandowners to communicate with consumers.

Examples of successful SIG packages in the prebiotic beverage sphere included a fruit juice fortified with inulin from German company Amecke – including clear information on the claimed benefits of prebiotic fibres and inulin in particular.

Nestlé Mexico prebiotic fibre dairy product Svelty Total Digest (pictured) was targeting ‘health conscious young women’ with a flowery design and a slender body silhouette to emphasise vitality and well being.

Chinese prebiotic success

SIG Combibloc said that large Chinese dairy players Inner Mongolia Mengniu and Inner Mongolia Yili were also integrating prebiotics in yogurt drinks with carrot, cucumber, tomato and purple potato and apple, strawberry and banana flavours respectively.

But Euromonitor International statistics sent to show that, in Western Europe, where question marks remain over the very survival of pro- and prebiotics as viable categories against the backdrop of the health claims regime​ – sales have fallen in key markets.

The research firm’s statistics show that, between 2006 and 2011, cross-category pro- and prebiotic drinking yogurt sales soared in China (€487.2m to €1.304bn), but sales slumped in the US from a peak of €270.8m in 2009 to €213m in 2011.

While the UK saw gradual growth to €247m (2011) other key EU markets also fell, with Germany value sales falling from a high of €353.2m in 2007 to €310m last year, and Italian sales also down year-on-year from a high of €269.4m (2008) to €231.5m (2011) and Spanish sales tumbling year-on-year from a €493.8m peak (2008) to €396.2m.

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