Probiotic punch: ‘Consumers are realizing they can get probiotics in beverages they already consume and love’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

US success story Suja Juice, known for cold-pressed juice, launches probiotic water.
US success story Suja Juice, known for cold-pressed juice, launches probiotic water.

Related tags Probiotic

Cold-pressed juices, cashew-milk smoothies, energy drinks, water and even cold-brew coffee: probiotics are making their mark across on-trend beverages.

And this includes non-dairy, everyday choices such as juice, water, coffee and tea, says Michael Bush, who is president of probiotic ingredient supplier Ganeden and executive board president for the International Probiotics Association.  

So far this year, Ganeden has partnered with food and beverage companies to launch 100 probiotic product SKUs, and a third of these are beverages.

New beverages for 2016

Ganeden is behind the probiotic strain Ganeden BC30​, which is certified kosher, halal, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free and dairy free.

Over 60 new product SKUs using Ganeden BC30​ were launched at this year’s Natural Products Expo West show in California – double the number of launches at last year’s show.

One of the launches was Suja’s new pressed probiotic waters (pictured main): an enhanced water made with organic fruits, vegetables and 2bn colony-forming units (CFUs) of vegan probiotics for ‘a clean dose of immune and digestive benefits.’

JUS by Julie Cold Brew Probiotic Coffee

Meanwhile, tapping into the cold brew coffee trend is JUS By Julie’s probiotic cold brew coffee: an ‘industry-first cold brew coffee infused with 1bn CFU of vegan probiotics.’

Forager - Banana Date

Forager Project’s new line of probiotic cashew smoothies use cashew milk as ‘a light and nutritious base for fruit flavors while the probiotic provides digestive support, immune boost and protein utilization benefits.’

And Garden of Flavor’s cold-pressed energy drinks include caffeine from Guayusa leaves, cold-pressed juice and living probiotic cultures.

Pill fatigue

There has been a common misconception that probiotics are primarily found in the dairy case, but the number of new products shows the demand for non-dairy offers, said Bush.

“In general, adding probiotics to foods and beverages outside of the dairy category is in high demand. Consumers are not only experiencing pill fatigue, but also want product options that fit into their daily lifestyle.

The shelf-stable challenge

Bush says that GanedenBC30​’s spore-forming nature and stability means it can be formulated into most beverages.

“Shelf stable beverages are a challenge, but until we solve that we have solutions to provide probiotic benefits through dispenser caps, straws and related technologies,” ​he added.

“As consumers are becoming more educated on the additional options available to them, they are realizing that they can get their daily dose of probiotics in everyday beverages that they already consume and love: coffee, juices, water, etc.” 

A recent consumer survey showed that 70% of respondents would prefer to consume probiotics in a food or beverage product rather than a supplement.

“Consumers are definitely looking for easy and convenient ways to get probiotics through beverages that are already part of their daily routine and isn’t a pill,” ​said Bush. “As additional probiotic beverages launch and consumers are educated more on the need for probiotics in their everyday diet, the appeal will continue to rise.”

Millennials and parents

Among those who are aware of probiotics, 50% of healthy consumer would pay 10% or more for beverages containing probiotics, said Bush.

And out of consumers who did not typically purchase beverages, healthy consumers would be at least 31% more likely to purchase new beverages if they had a health benefit, added a probiotic or claimed immune or digestive benefits.

“Millennials and parents are leading the way in probiotic acceptance and understanding,” ​said Bush. “Based on our survey results, both groups were more interested in buying beverages with a probiotic and were also willing to pay more.

“However, adding a probiotic to a beverage helps increase consumer attraction across all audiences.

“In our survey, among those who are aware of probiotics, 98% of respondents would buy a food or beverage product that contained a health benefi­t if priced the same as a similar product without health benefits.  However, consumer education on probiotics is still needed and would definitely help in attracting more consumers.”

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