To monitor the evolution of European consumers’ opinions, trends and behaviours regarding probiotic foods and supplements, the International Probiotics Association – Europe commissioned the market research company 3Gem to carry out a survey with a representative sample.
The evolution of European consumers’ opinions, trends and behaviours shows a strong interest in overall health and well-being. It also highlights the fact that consumers would like to be more informed on the labelling and in communications about probiotic food, and about probiotic microorganisms in food and food supplements.
Here the key findings of the consumer survey:
1 Probiotics are popular. Even people who do not use or buy probiotics know the term (56% out of 8.000). Consumers who know what probiotic foods and supplements are, and who also consume them, mention that their main driver is their overall health and well-being.
2 Very often, the guidance for using probiotics comes from health professionals, which also explains why so many people are aware of this category but find no match when looking at product labels.
3 Consumers do not feel well informed that a product contains probiotics (57% out of 8.000). The large majority of consumers would like to be informed about probiotics through, for example, food labels (79% out of 8.000). Consumers use probiotics and are more informed in countries that allow the use of the term for a long time.
Strong interest in probiotics
There’s a strong interest in probiotics: there is an opportunity to inform and further educate consumers about the usefulness and usage of probiotics if the term can be used as the name of the category and as a nutrition claim.
The online survey was carried out in 8 European countries (Italy, Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Germany and Sweden) on a total of 8000 consumers (2) to assess people’s understanding of the probiotic offer currently on the market, and their use of probiotic foods and supplements in daily life.
It appears that for the majority of consumers the answer to “Do you know what probiotics and probiotic foods are?” is “yes” (63%). Women and men seem to consume probiotics almost equally. On average the peak consumption is in the 25-44 age group.
There is quite a substantial set of people who know the word ‘probiotic’, even though they say that they do not consume them. This is probably due to the large amount of information available on probiotics in online search engines on the web, mainly from commercial sources and news outlets. However, these sites often fail to paint a complete picture, so consumers may miss relevant information.
About the impact of the regulatory environment on sales in the EU. Since 2018, some EU countries gradually allow the use of the term ‘probiotic’, under certain conditions: this increased use of the term ‘probiotic’ is also reflected by the market evolution: during the period 2018-2021 the European market of probiotic food and food supplements shows a significant increase of sales of +9,08%.