Consumers are seeking out more foods that have probiotics, global bioscience company Chr. Hansen says. In a commissioned study with FMCG Gurus, consumers said following the pandemic they were more concerned about supporting their immune system.
Chr. Hansen commercial development and senior scientific manager for Fresh Dairy, Dorte Eskesen said clinical trials had long demonstrated specific probiotic strains may help strengthen the immune system and support digestive health, consumer understanding was now catching up with the research.
She said that Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) has been studied in more than 200 clinical studies and described in more than 800 scientific publications to have a proven beneficial support to the gastrointestinal and immune system. The world’s most documented Bifidobacterium BB-12 has more than 100 clinical studies published about its with benefits associated with digestive system health.
“The fact that up to eighty per cent of our immune cells reside in the gut resonated strongly with consumers who are increasingly seeing functional foods as a way to help maintain optimal health,” Eskesen said.
The study combined quantitative research of 1000 participants and qualitative focus-group questioning. The findings included:
- 72 per cent of participants were concerned about their immune health – mostly in relation to their own health and wellbeing;
- Almost half of those surveyed indicated that current concerns related to immunity had made them more conscious of overall immune health;
- More than one-quarter of the participants have turned to food more frequently to support their immune defence at this time; and
- 71 per cent of participants associate probiotics with helping to support their immune health.
Eskesen said while the study was encouraging, there was a long way to go in educating consumers that the health benefits of probiotics are strain specific, with each strain offering health benefits in different ways.
“It’s clinically documented that specific strains like LGG and LC-431 may support immune health, whereas BB-12 may support digestive health, which also assists with immunity,” Eskesen said.
Chr. Hansen works with a number of food manufacturers on their probiotic needs. Vaalia has long used clinically studied, high-quality live Chr. Hansen LGG probiotics to help support the immunity in their yoghurt, while Emma & Tom juices use LC-431 in its probiotic juice. Consumer demand has also prompted The Culture Co. to include BB-12 in its products.
The key, Eskesen said, was that as consumer demand for food manufacturers to include probiotics increased, around one billion live probiotics must be in each serve to ensure a beneficial impact.