Idea Center
Expert Insight

Q&A: What’s Causing Probiotic Market Growth?

Man in blue shirt holding stomach

What’s causing probiotic market growth? The digestive health market is growing rapidly, as consumers become more aware of the benefits of food and beverage products fortified with safe and efficacious probiotics. Join John Quilter, VP and General Manager with BC30™ probiotic, for a Q&A on the state of the industry, and emerging trends.

What is the state of the digestive health market for ingredients and products?

Digestive health markets are thriving across the world, and the probiotics category is performing particularly well, with sales worth $49.4 billion in 2018.[1]

There are three principal drivers for growth – interest, awareness, and proactivity. One indicator of consumer interest is online activity: over the past five years, the number of Google searches for “Gut Health” has grown by 669%, with the largest leap occurring in early 2019. Over the same period, the number of searches for “Microbiome” and “Gut-Brain Axis” grew by 267% and 204% respectively. [2]

However, BC30 has carried out research showing that people across the world have not only heard of probiotics, but also understand the benefits they provide. Around eight in ten (79%) of the Americans we surveyed perceived probiotics to provide digestive health benefits, while in China, 56% of the consumers who were aware of probiotics accurately understood their benefits for good digestive health.[3]

Finally, the digestive health market is growing because people are adopting an increasingly proactive approach to their health generally. Globally, 42% of consumers say they proactively seek out products that can improve their health, and 47% say they react to health problems when they arise.[4]

What is the future of the digestive health market?

There’s no sign that interest in digestive health will drop off any time soon. In fact the global probiotics market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 7% and to reach $69.3 billion by 2023. [5]

It’s also worth keeping in mind that some of the youngest consumers are the most interested in digestive health. Among adults, probiotics hold the greatest interest for those aged between 25 and 34.[6]

What conditions are consumers seeking help with regarding digestion?

Research shows that around one in four American consumers suffers digestive health issues every day.[7] The most common issues include IBS, diarrhea, and indigestion, but often people just want to achieve a healthier gut microbiome. Probiotics can help with all of these issues.

What are the top ingredients in the digestive health category? What are the latest additions?

One of the most important developments in the digestive health category has been the emergence of Bacillus coagulans probiotic strains such as BC30. These are hardy, spore-forming bacteria with a structure that is much more resistant to extremes of pH, heat, cold, and pressure, making them an excellent fit for the fortification of everyday foods and beverages.

They can be used in products that are hot, cold, frozen, shelf-stable, or subject to extreme manufacturing processes. As a result, spore-forming probiotics can be incorporated into products in an increasingly wide range of categories.

Are there trends in ingredients and/or formulations for these products? 

Perhaps the most important trend is the growing demand for probiotics beyond the traditional categories. As part of our research we asked consumers whether they would be interested in purchasing products in specific categories if they featured ingredients that promoted digestive health. It’s probably unsurprising that yogurt and yogurt-based drinks emerged as the most popular option at 48%. Yet significant numbers also expressed an interest in less traditional categories. Fruit and vegetable juices were of interest to 39% of respondents, followed by cereal, granola and breakfast bars (35%) and snacks (33%).[8]

The emergence of hardy, spore-forming probiotics such as market leader BC30 can help meet this demand. Because they can survive almost any manufacturing process, they can be incorporated into products in most food and beverage categories – anything from ice cream and freezer pops, to pizza and peanut butter –  without any loss of functionality.

Briefly, what science or reports regarding digestive health are manufacturers looking at?

Savvy manufacturers understand the huge importance of scientific substantiation in a market where consumers are increasingly skeptical. (It’s worth keeping in mind that only 15% of people believe that nutrition and performance drinks deliver on their promised claims.)[9] The digestive health products that succeed are those containing well-studied, branded probiotics, that easily convey a benefit-driven story that consumers can understand and trust. The benefits of BC30 are substantiated by more than 25 peer-reviewed, published papers, with the research showing that it supports digestive health when consumed daily.

Anything else about gut health? 

Something that should be emphasized is the industry’s responsibility for transparency and consumer education. It’s not the case that all the information about gut health out there is accurate – there are still a lot of myths around. The most common is that all probiotic strains are the same when in fact each is unique, with its own distinct characteristics. These properties can influence safety, efficacy and suitability for particular applications.

What do consumers think about probiotics?


[1] MarketsandMarkets, Global Probiotic Market Forecast to 2023, Dec 2018
[2] Google Trends, August 2019
[3] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2019
[4] GlobalData – TrendSights Overview: Health & Wellness, August 2018
[5] MarketsandMarkets, ‘Probiotics Market Global Forecast to 2023’, December 2018
[6] Kerry SSI Consumer Survey, 2017
[7] Innova Market Insights (2017)
[8] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2019