Dairy accounts for 50 per cent of prebiotic products currently in the market but the researchers, in a new report, found that a growing number of breakfast cereal manufacturers are using prebiotics as a way of promoting the 'feel good factor' to the consumer or as a way of adding extra fibre to biscuits and breakfast products.
Prebiotics are benefitting also from the ease of formulation they allow in ambient products.
The report, the EU Digestive Health Ingredients Market, notes that the sector employing ingredients such as prebiotics, probiotics and digestive enzymes generated revenues of $245.0m in 2008 and is poised to reach $536.5m in 2015.
According to the analysts, digestive health in 2008 was the largest product segment of the total EU approved functional food market, accounting for 68 per cent of sales. They forecast that rising product prices, coupled with the extension of application areas, will continue to enhance market prospects.
Marketing campaigns, backed by increasing support from medical professionals and government groups, is also contributing to a growing awareness of how probiotics and other foods and ingredients can benefit digestive health.
"The European market for digestive health ingredients is at the growth stage and new product launches are frequent and numerous," notes Frost & Sullivan industry analyst Sridhar Gajendran. "Products for digestive health are available in both the functional foods and the dietary supplement segments, with the former having a relatively larger share in terms of both volume and value in 2008."
Gajendran cautioned though that the relatively high cost of probiotics may prove to be prohibitive, especially as EU consumers tighten their belts in response to the current economic meltdown.
"Nevertheless, the growing trend for digestive health and consumers' keenness to offset rising healthcare costs will likely counterbalance the negative effects of the economic recession," he added. "Moreover, as demand and production volumes for probiotic products grow, manufacturing costs will decrease."