Probiotics unlock exciting next frontier in wellness

Science forges new paths for probiotics outside of digestive and immunity

09 Apr 2024

5 min

#Global #All Categories #Innovation #Nutrition

Around the world, consumer trends in the probiotic space are shaping dairy categories and creating a need for science to focus on the alternative benefits of consuming probiotics. Many consumers understand the health and wellness benefits of probiotics and strongly link probiotics with gut health and immunity, and are open to exploring even more benefits.1 Recognising this trend, brands have increased probiotic product launches mainly in the vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS) space, as well as the drinking yoghurt and liquid milk categories. Fonterra's Advanced Nutrition Insights Lead, Barbara Zhao, takes an analysis of Mintel GNPD over the past six months and has seen brands consistently launch probiotic food, drink and health products in China, South Korea and the US.2

Probiotics continuing to gain popularity


of Chinese consumers with young children prefer children’s growth milk fortified with probiotics.


of Thai consumers know about probiotics and their health benefits.


of US consumers agree non-alcoholic indulgent drinks can be made healthier with ingredients like probiotics.


Base: China: 2,383 internet users aged 20-49 who have children aged 4-12; Thailand: 1,500 internet users aged 18+; US: 2,000 internet users aged 18+.

Source: KuRunData/Mintel, December 2022; Dynata/Mintel, February 2022; Kantar Profiles/Mintel, February 2023.


The age of innovation in digestive health

In recent years, consumers have been paying close attention to the gut microbiome and its links to digestive health coupled with skin health, weight management, cognitive health and mood. As a result, there has been a noticeable increase of ‘microbiome’ language appearing in product launches and on-pack. This microbiome terminology is currently seen mostly in the beauty category, as well as food and drink categories such as dairy, kombucha and cereals.

The increase in innovative probiotic product launches over the last six months have mainly been for VMS (22%), drinking yoghurt and milk drinks (19%), and spoonable yoghurt (10%). After these top three sub-categories, other product launches with a probiotic claim include fermented drinks, nutritional / meal replacement drinks, growing-up milk, cereals, milk, infant formula, snack bars, dairy based ice cream, and frozen yoghurt. China, South Korea, USA and Australia were the top countries launching the most probiotics products during this same period. The key probiotic claims for these launches focussed mainly on digestive and immune system claims followed by additional claims relating to prebiotics, babies and toddlers, energy, cognitive, antioxidant and more.3

Top three markets driving probiotic products

What is interesting is that we are seeing different categories driving probiotics in different markets. For example, while the US and South Korea are driving the largest number of probiotic launches through VMS, the yoghurt category is driving probiotic launches in China.4

More health benefits are being explored

While gut health and immunity remain the biggest drivers of probiotic products, as consumers become more aware of other benefits, brands are homing in on additional probiotic health benefits:

NZMP gut health chart for Perspective

New product innovations are creatively tapping into alternative probiotic health benefits

NZMP Perspective probiotic innovation example

Cu Liang Jun x Xinxianmiyu (China) have created a sports nutritional food for endurance with added probiotics for weight control.

Source: Mintel GNPD

NZMP Perspective probiotic supplement example

Nature’s Way Probiotic Pearls (New Zealand) is a daily probiotic supplement to support healthy vaginal flora and digestive regularity. 

Source: Mintel GNPD

NZMP Perspective probiotic example

Werdery Chang Yin Jun's (China) mint-flavoured probiotic solid beverage is aimed to soothe chronic alcoholic liver injury.

Source: Mintel GNPD

Recommendations from the market experts

With consumer demand for microbiome-nurturing ingredients like probiotics on the rise, global Advanced Nutrition market insights and research agency Mintel suggests brands use targeted probiotics that support new microbiomes such as cognitive health and women's health. It is recommended that brands use probiotics to boost and market the natural, nutritional qualities of processed foods, like probiotics that support nutrient availability or absorption.1

Since the 1990s, Fonterra have been leading the way with two unique strains of probiotics developed for nutrition solutions. Both Nutiani HN001™ and HN019™ are Fonterra’s flagship strains and are two of the world’s most researched and clinically documented probiotics. Nutiani HN001™ supports digestive health and immunity by improving gut integrity and barrier function.5 It has also been shown to reduce the risk of eczema in infants6 and gestational diabetes7 and postnatal depression in mothers.8 Nutiani HN019™ helps reduce gut discomfort and constipation9 while also reducing the risk of certain types of infection.10 The health benefits of Nutiani’s HN001™ and HN019™ are creating multiple opportunities for brands to innovate.

Nutiani HN019™ and HN001™ are unlocking new opportunities for brands to explore more probiotic health benefits that spark real consumer interest.

Click the button below to learn more about Nutiani’s game changing Probiotic BifidoB HN019™ and LactoB HN001™


Barbara Zhao

Insights Lead, Advanced Nutrition Insights, Global Insights team, Fonterra

Barbara is the Insights Lead for the Advanced Nutrition category at Fonterra. Prior to joining Fonterra, Barbara has more than 10 years of experience working for different global insights agencies including Frost & Sullivan, Synovate and Ipsos in the Health Care Industry. Additionally, Barbara has a medical related education background and previously worked at NovoNordisk pharmaceutical company in Beijing as an Insights Manager.

Barbara’s experience supports her current role as Barbara’s role is to support the category with daily insights needs, manage consumer qualitative and quantitative surveys; apply insights analysis to support business actions, strategic initiatives and planning as well as customer engagements for the Advanced Nutrition category.

  • 1. Fonterra Quarterly Newsletter, Q1, Yap, Mintel, 2024.
  • 2. Mintel GNPD, August 2023 – January 2024.
  • 3. GNPD analysis where Super-Category matches one or more of Food; Drink; Health, and Claims matches Probiotic as the claim, and Date Published matches less than six months 31 Jan 2024.
  • 4. Mintel GNPD, August 2023 – January 2024 China, South Korea, USA.
  • 5. Anderson et al., 2010; Barnett et al., 2018.
  • 6. Wickens et al 2018.
  • 7. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 8th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2017.
  • 8. The Effect of Maternal Depression on Infant Attachment: A Systematic Review Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 2675; doi:10.3390/ijerph17082675.
  • 9. Waller et al, 2011.
  • 10. Sazawal et al., 2010 a and b.

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