Prebiotics: It's a Complex Market

April 2021

The market for prebiotics is growing, but there are also challenges and questions to be addressed. What are prebiotics? Why should I consider an investment in the prebiotic market? How does the growth of the global population impact demand for prebiotics? These all sound difficult, but stay with us as we give you everything you need to know about this industry niche that is poised for tremendous growth.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are dietary supplements or ingredients found in some foods that help to feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are organic compounds that are not digested by the human body, but which provide nutrients to other microorganisms living in our intestines. They’re a form of soluble fibre which probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria feed off of to allow good bacteria to flourish.

The market for prebiotics is challenging as it deals with new substances and formats, such as capsules or syrups. The market segmentation is broad, covering multi substance and multiple delivery formats. 

Challenges and Opportunities

As for the products available, there are many, including prebiotic foods, nutritional supplements, and pharmaceuticals. The global market size for prebiotics is in excess. The global market for this segment has witnessed a good-growth trend over the last few months and is expected to continue along the same path in the next few years. The global market is also expected to witness certain limitations in its growth prospects, as outlined below:

1) High R&D cost: The fundamental research that’s required to find out what exactly are prebiotics is not cheap at all. The R&D cost is very high and is expected to rise further with time. The demand for prebiotics is also not very high, considering the newly discovered nature of this market segment. The global prebiotics market has a long way to go before it can become self-sustainable.

2) Complex testing procedures: This is one of the most complex parts of this industry. The chemical structure and enzymes present in prebiotics are extremely complex and need to be studied carefully.

3) Price fluctuations: Due to varying raw material prices,the price of prebiotic chemicals is expected to fluctuate with time.

But despite the challenges, we can still expect a good market size for this particular segment. With continued research and development, the prebiotics market will flourish with time. Prebiotics are the newest and most cost effective means to induce probiotic activity in animals. Prebiotics are compounds such as oligosaccharides, fructo-oligosaccharides, and galacto-oligosaccharides that resist digestion by mammals.

However, because of the increased demand for prebiotics over the years with a limited supply of the natural ingredients used for manufacturing this type of product, many researchers are looking into different types of substrates with similar properties like sucrose polyfructose (SPF) that can be used in food production.

Some challenges could be due to poor solubility or stability issues which depend on purification methods. The high cost of these products is also a major factor that can hinder its adoption. Therefore, the food and beverage industry should be aware of different methods and processes for using prebiotics to enhance the viability of probiotics in their product. At present, there are only a few companies in India that produce prebiotics.

Prebiotic products are used for manufacturing probiotic supplements which may include health drinks, dairy products, confectionery items etc. The market demand for prebiotic could be linked to the growth in the probiotics market which includes fermented foods and beverages with probiotic cultures like yogurt, kombucha tea etc.

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