‘Gut Health’. It’s a proven growth trend that looks set to remain for some time. A driver for the surge of interest in digestive health is science, and we now know that the gut is our “second brain” and plays a pivotal role in our overall health and even influences how happy or sad we feel. And with the profound worldwide increase in consumer interest relating to gut health, there is significant growth potential for innovative companies of all kinds, whether that be food, pharmaceutical, meal service, aged care and technology industries.
Emerging science has given us a greater understanding of the gut microbiome and the possible links to everything from anxiety and depression to weight management, diabetes, asthma and stress. Whilst the science is still in its infancy and the specific role that an individual’s microbiome plays in influencing health and disease outcomes is still largely unknown, consumers are focusing their attention on solutions that will help them achieve optimal “digestive wellness”.
In the past, avoidance strategies like gluten-free or lactose-free were ways for consumers to be free from discomfort such as bloating and diarrhoea (recognised as poor digestive wellness). When people avoid these ingredients and feel the benefit, it is the ideal motivation to purchase a specific product. This has been the underpinning success of many yoghurt probiotic brands such as Danone Activia’s® “get comfortable with your tummy”. The success of probiotic dairy foods as well as the free-from trends (e.g. gluten, lactose, carbohydrate) indicate that consumers are motivated to buy products that allow them to feel digestive wellness. Consumers will seek out and consider new categories that were unknown to them previously, Examples include Kombucha, which most people could barely pronounce a few years ago and is expected to triple in worldwide market value from 2015 to 2020. Some of the other previously not well-known categories that are likely to see an increased demand include fermentation (e.g. Sauerkraut, Korean restaurants and Kefir starter kits), different types of fibre (e.g. resistant starch to feed the gut microbiome), raw plant foods that are good sources of prebiotics (e.g. artichokes, legumes) and supplements that focus on gut health.
Digestive health is moving into a new era thanks to a greater understanding of the broad effects of gut health on overall health and the fast expansion of technology and products to service this industry. People are open to a range of products and services that will help them feel better, Companies that focus on this consumer desire for optimal digestive wellness and the “feeling of the benefit” will be those that ultimately achieve success and gut health and wealth!
Teri Lichtenstein (APD)
The Healthy Grain Brand Ambassador
Activia® is a trademark of Compagnie Gervais Danone.