Functional foods pave the way for probiotics

Related tags Dairy products Milk Yoghurt

A new report suggests that Americans are waking up to the health
benefits of cultured dairy products - and in particular probiotic
shots - as part of the wider trend towards functional foods,
reports Jess Halliday.

According to The US Market for Cultured Dairy Products​ published by Packaged Facts, a division of, the market for branded packaged cultured dairy products reached an estimated $5.9 billion in 2004, an increase of 7.9 percent on 2003. It predicts that it will reach $11.4 billion in 2009, with a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent.

"Cultured dairy products, particularly yogurt, are enjoying a renaissance in the American marketplace,"​ said Don Montuori, acquisitions editor for Packaged Facts.

"There is a tremendous amount of product variety, and the category has been bolstered by a growing awareness of the need for calcium and growing evidence that dairy products can assist in weight loss and maintenance."

The report covers three categories of cultured dairy products: Cultured fluid (drinkable yogurt/yogurt smoothies, kefir, probiotic shots and other); non-drinkable yogurt (cups and tubes); and other non-pourable cultured dairy (cottage cheese, cream cheese, dairy dips and sour cream).

Of these, non-drinkable yogurt accounted for the lion's share of sales in 2004, at $4.7 billion.Cultured fluid attained sales of $1.2 billion and other non-pourable cultured dairy $3.4 million.

Of all the sub-categories, probiotic shots show the most dynamism, reaching $8 million - a 105 percent increase on 2003. Between 2004 and 2009 the compound annual growth rate is predicted to be 97.4 percent, bringing it to $0.4 billion by the decade's end.

American consumers have been slower than their European and Japanese counterparts to embrace probiotic shots, but according to the report's authors their future success is assured by the popularity of drinkable yogurt and yogurt smoothies, which are seen as natural precursors.

The rapid growth of interest in prebiotics and probiotics after several stagnant years in the late 1990s is attributed to growing interest in functional foods.

"Consumers are starting to realize that it is more healthful, less expensive, easier, and tastier to get our nutrients from our diets than from supplements,"​ claims the study.

Probiotic shots contain concentrated doses of 'good' bacteria that help to boost the immune system and aid in digestion.

They are typically sold in multipacks of single-serve bottles of just over 3-ounces, each one intended to be consumed in a single sitting. The most prevalent probiotic shot product in the US is Danone's DanActive.

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