Probiotics Still Misunderstood

Well it certainly isn’t Jamie Lee Curtis’ fault, but the fact remains many consumers do not actually know what probiotics are. Curtis has served as a very visible spokesperson for Dannon Activia, a leading yogurt that contains probiotics-which are healthy bacteria said to help digestion.

Still despite Dannon and competitors like LiveActive from Kraft Foods’ efforts, 63 percent of consumers reported that they are still confused by probiotics. Only 13 percent of those claiming familiarity could accurately provide a definition. These were the findings from a Datamonitor study released today which was commissioned by Kraft.

Still, the results show an improvement, said Datamonitor’s consumer markets analyst Mark Whalley. A survey conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for Ganeden Biotech in 2008 found that 85 percent of respondents were unfamiliar with probiotics. In 2007, 78 percent of respondents to an NPD Group had no knowledge the term probiotics at all.

“This emphasizes how there is still a need for brands to educate U.S. consumers about the benefits of probiotic consumption. The good news is that Americans appear to be responding to marketing messages,” said Whalley.

Whalley said that Datamonitor predicts the US probiotic market will continue to grow as more consumers shift to healthier eating habits and increase their working knowledge of the associated health benefits of probiotics. Datamonitor forecasts that the industry could be worth up to $2 billion or more by 2013.

“What is clear is that during the economic crisis manufacturers need to continue to create probiotic products, which consumers find an integral part of their daily routine, otherwise much of the early good work will have to be repeated to get these consumers to resume consumption if they sacrifice it now to save money,” Whalley said.

Dannon, has kept its foot on the gas, earlier this year launched Activia drinks and Activia Fiber.

Still, no matter who is producing the products containing probiotics, they need to be mindful of their claims. In April, is was reported that The Dannon Co. was working on a settlement of complaints filed by customers questioning the health claims made on behalf of its Activia as well as DanActive yogurts.