Survey: 1 in 4 global consumers used probiotics in last 6 months

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / SolStock
Getty Images / SolStock

Related tags Probiotics Kerry

Probiotic use on the rise as science-backed probiotic strains meet a range of market needs.

Demand for probiotics is growing as consumers continue to make digestive health a priority, according to a global survey by Kerry, the company behind the probiotic BC30 (Bacillus coagulans​ GBI-30, 6086).

Kerry’s survey was carried out online in January 2021 and included over 13,000 consumers across 16 countries, including Australia (n=805), Brazil (n=804),China (n=808), Colombia (n=803), France (n=801),Germany (n=805),India (n=801), Indonesia (n=805),Italy (n=804), Japan (n=805),Mexico (n=804), South Korea (n=806), Spain (n=802),Thailand (n=809), UK (n=808), and US (n=1002).

Key findings

They found that globally, 47% of respondents were aware of probiotics or cultures, up from 42% in 2019, when the survey was last conducted. Awareness was particularly high in Latin America (63%) and North America (61%).

The survey also found that 25% had used a product containing probiotics over the past six months – up from 21% in 2019. A further 44% would consider doing so, up from 40% in 2019. Usage was particularly high in China and Mexico, where just under half of the respondents in Mexico reported using a product containing probiotics over the past six months, followed by Mexico, coming in at 42%.

The survey suggests that breakfast food and beverages are the most closely associated with digestive health. For example, 40% of overall respondents said they would be interested in purchasing yogurts containing ingredients with digestive health benefits. Many other categories were also strongly associated with digestive health, including fruit and vegetable juices (31%), dairy-based drinks (31%) and breakfast cereal / granola (28%).

Consumer awareness

The survey also suggests that probiotic benefits are well recognized by consumers. Respondents were shown the BC30 logo and an image of products in which it can be found. When asked which benefits they perceived BC30 to deliver, 45% chose digestive health and 45% chose immune support. After being provided with more information regarding BC30, 80% found its communicated benefits to be believable.

Digestive health in focus

“A range of factors have driven the continuing growth in demand for gut health solutions generally, and for probiotics in particular. Demographic changes such as population aging and lifestyle choices have increased the prevalence of digestive disorders, while the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards more proactive approaches to health. As a result, consumers want to see functional ingredients in their favorite food and beverage products, and they’re increasingly well educated about the role of probiotics and their ability to support both digestive health and overall wellness. Manufacturers who formulate functional foods and beverages using science-backed probiotic strains can therefore meet a range of market needs,”​ said John Quilter, Kerry VP of Global Portfolio – ProActive Health.

The top two reasons for probiotic use were immune health and healthy bones and joints. Consumers ranked digestive health third on their list of reasons to purchase healthy lifestyle products, up from fourth in 2019. In the last six months, 38% of survey respondents globally had used some form of digestive health product, about the same number of those who had used an immune health product (39%).

Beyond the gut

Digestion aside, many consumers are turning to probiotics for their complexion, as the skin microbiome​ takes the skin care world by storm. Another burgeoning category is the vaginal microbiome​, an area that more and more women are turning to balance their PH levels and tackle issues like UTIs. And as we learn more about the gut-brain axis, growing research suggests that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function as well as lower stress and anxiety​.

The global probiotics market​ size is expected to reach $95.25 billion by 2028, according to a new study by Grand View Research. It is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.2% from 2021 to 2028.