Japan is the largest market for probiotics in Asia-Pacific, with an estimated share of about 45% in 2016, though growth in demand in the region is expected to be the slowest. The largest share by product type is accounted for by functional foods & beverages, estimated at 35% in 2016, with consumption of yogurt being highly widespread in the region. In terms of growth, however, demand for dietary supplements is likely to outpace other segments. By application, regular usage of probiotics is most common in Japan, with preventive and therapeutic measures also gaining wider acceptance.
Probiotics is defined by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as live micro-organisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.
Prevention and cure of disorders such as lactose intolerance and inflammatory bowel disease are some of the benefits offered by probiotics, with rising health-consciousness levels and wider access to probiotic dietary supplements. The past decade has witnessed the launch of more than 500 food & beverage probiotic products, which have garnered exceptional response in terms of acceptance. Some of the factors that lead to digestive disorders, bloating and reduction in resistance to infections include poor and untimely diet, age and stress levels. Studies have revealed that consuming products enhanced with probiotics has been successful in moderating these conditions to a large extent.
Manufacturers and suppliers of functional foods, in particular, have gained wider margins because of the seal of approval granted to probiotics. However, the players would need to focus on product innovations in order to account for greater market share in the dynamic and ever-evolving field of probiotics. In fact, companies, such as Japan-based Yakult Honsha and Denmark-based CHR Hansen have been successful in developing patented strains of micro-organisms, with the claim of having effect on specific health conditions. In addition, a raft of probiotic ingredient suppliers has also demonstrated success in developing bespoke strains of micro-organisms capable of being incorporated into a range of food products.
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