The Emergence of the Digestive Health Food Category
The family food menu today is more complex than it was growing up. Back then it was common to wake up to a hearty breakfast that included a glass of orange juice, cereal, and a cup of coffee, double cream, double sugar. Oh, how times have changed. Consumers are now more concerned with healthier food options, clean ingredients, and a reduction in the level of sugar. Over the past couple of years, Digestive Health has emerged as a flourishing consumer trend. The growth of this category has been a nutrition industry success story. The global probiotics market (good” or “helpful” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy) is projected to grow to $69B at a CAGR of 7.0% through 2023. Functional foods and beverages are by far the biggest segment currently representing more than 82% of the total market.[i]
So what is driving digestive health demand?
Consumers’ demand can be summarized in 3 words: Proactivity, Interest, and Awareness. Consumers’ interest in digestive health comes down to their renewed lifestyle for healthy eating. In the U.S., 48% of consumers agree that good digestive health is important for overall well-being, while Canadians are the most dissatisfied with their current digestive health situation.
Chart 1 outlines the top 5 reasons why consumers are interested in improving digestive health.
Why Consumers are Interested in Improving Digestive Health
Today, more consumers are turning to functional food and beverages to meet their wellness goals. When asked “What would be your preferred consumption format of health-enhancing ingredients?”, 85% named food and 57% named drink. A study that explored the commitment of consumers in relation to food and drink products with a digestive health positioning revealed:
- 47% of consumers found such products appealing.
- 44% reported an intent to seek out and purchase.
- 36% reported a willingness to pay a premium for food and drink products with a digestive health positioning.[ii]
Throughout the period of 2015-2019:
- Food and beverage products that made a digestive / health claim have experienced global CAGR growth of 27%.
- Food and beverage products that made an immune health claim have experienced global CAGR growth of 16%.
- Food and beverage products that made an energy / alertness claim have experienced global CAGR growth of 28%[iii]
Bentilia Foods (www.bentilia.com) is a privately operated business that has become the first pasta brand to launch a line of functional pasta with digestive health benefits, all backed with the Plantricious certification. Their pasta as a base ingredient is a source of prebiotic fiber. They have combined it with other functional ingredients to further enhance its nutritional value.
As part of their functional offering is their:
- Zimmunity line: Exclusive blend of 21 nutrients designed to maintain, strengthen, and support the immune system.
- Ziperformance line: Pasta line combined with beets to provide health benefits for the cardiovascular system.
- Zifensia line: Exclusive blend of prebiotics and probiotics to support digestive health.
Bentilia Foods Functional Pasta Offering
Though this trend may be relatively unknown, it is one brands must take into consideration moving forward, especially for those in the food and beverage sector as 55% of consumers believe food or drink can provide the same health benefits as non-prescription medicines.[iv]
[i] Inside Story – Why Demand for Digestive Health Keeps Growing, 2019.
[ii] Inside Story – Why Demand for Digestive Health Keeps Growing, 2019
[iii] Food Navigator Clean Label Challenges, Innovations and Solutions Webinar, November 2020
[iv] Inside Story – Why Demand for Digestive Health Keeps Growing, 2019