Ten years ago the word probiotics wasn’t known, and five years ago it was a new word to most Americans. But thanks to the marketing of Activia yogurt by Dannon, which started in 2006, these microorganisms have garnered national attention. After Activia took the dairy market by storm, other foods fortified with probiotics, as well as probiotic supplements, followed suit.
Probiotics are live microorganisms said to be beneficial to gut health and digestion. And Americans are lapping up the information. Sales of probiotic vitamins three years ago were $10.1 million, but in the 52 weeks ended April 16, sales rose 24.8% to $46.9 million in the United States, according to Nielsen.
“People are becoming more and more interested in actively managing their health,” said Scott Popham, director of external relations for Procter & Gamble, whose product Align is one of the category leaders.
P&G launched Align in 2009, and the company has relied on the science behind its brand. According to Popham, “We hang our hat on the data behind our products, and we always make sure we have the highest standards of safety. And we have 10 years of research behind our product. So I think that’s really where we differentiate ourselves — through our science.”
The latest company to enter the probiotic market is Schiff Nutrition International, which recently purchased the rights to the OTC probiotic supplement brands Sustenex and Digestive Advantage from Ganeden Biotech.
Both of these products contain the proprietary GanedenBC30 (BC30, Bacillus coagulans GBI-30, 6086) probiotic technology. “Our focus is to deliver shareholder value by building premium brands and leading innovation,” said Tarang Amin, president and CEO of Schiff Nutrition. “By acquiring the rights to the leading probiotics technology, we have entered a new, rapidly expanding category that creates accretive growth opportunities.”
He added: “We believe BC30 has many inherent physical properties that make it superior to other traditional probiotic organisms. We intend to leverage this enviable technology and grow the Sustenex and Digestive Advantage lines. In addition, we plan to capitalize on Schiff’s brand-marketing know-how, provide incremental marketing investment and use our well-established customer relationships to increase distribution.”