Digestive health market growth and trends

Probiotics lead the way in the digestive health market
Probiotics lead the way in the digestive health market

The market for digestive health products has undergone massive changes over the past several years. Once only known for the benefits of digestive health, these products now claim benefits of immune support, women’s health benefits (Ph benefits and vaginal health), nutrient absorption improvement, and even products that help with brain and cardiovascular health. Moreover, there is a wide variety of probiotic supplement forms available, such as drinks, sodas, chews, cubes, gummies, and prefilled straws. Furthermore, whole food sources of probiotics, as well as new snack foods, such as chips, chocolates, and others, are all becoming popular with today’s increasingly demanding consumers. Even topically applied skin care products are making waves in the market. Skin care brands such as Tula have introduced probiotic-based skin care.

Kline defines the digestive health market to include the following types of products:

  • Probiotic supplements (refrigerated and shelf-stable supplements including those that combine prebiotics and/or digestive enzymes, with probiotics)
  • Probiotic beverages (including select kombucha and kefir brands)
  • Digestive enzymes

While the U.S. OTC market has struggled to find real growth in recent years, digestive health brands have grown rapidly, by double digits year over year in the recent past; as a result, it is important for marketers of traditional OTC brands to understand the impact of these products on their business.

Probiotic supplements are available in shelf-stable forms or forms that require refrigeration, which allows more bacteria to remain alive. Refrigerated probiotic supplements typically contain more strains of live bacteria than most shelf-stable products and are significantly more expensive, retailing between $25.00-$50.00, almost double the price of shelf-stable probiotic brands. Both shelf-stable and refrigerated probiotics contain live bacteria which introduce good bacteria into the digestive system.

Probiotic beverages are the second-largest digestive health market segment, behind probiotic supplements, but beverages are the fastest-growing segment. These include kombucha and kefir brands. Kombucha are fermented teas that contain yeast and bacterial cultures, while kefir is made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep, coconut, rice, or soy, and is fermented at low temperatures with bacteria cultures. Probiotic beverages require refrigeration and tend to be sold through more traditional mass channels of distribution, such as food stores and mass merchandisers. Digestive enzymes are a small but familiar segment of the digestive health market, known to help with the digestion of food by aiding in the breakdown of nutrients.  While additional health benefits of digestive enzymes are being studied, research indicates that enzymes such as lactase help digestion, reduce gut inflammation, reduce gas, and boost immunity.

Want to learn more? DOWNLOAD a complimentary white paper Digestive Health Products Far Outpacing OTC Market Growth: Probiotics Lead the Way.

 This blog post and a white paper are based on Kline’s Digestive Health, Immunity, and Probiotics study published in June 2017. This report provides an extensive market assessment of the brands and companies and analyses the future trends in the market for digestive health products.