Activity in functional digestive food and drink has grown across all regions, with Europe and Asia Pacific accounting for the bulk of activity and a notable 62% increase in Latin American product launches from 2008-2009. After rapid expansion in 2008, functional digestive new product launches shifted away from the dairy category in 2009 and broadened to include other food and drink categories. Global non-alcoholic beverages, bakery and breakfast cereals saw the largest increases from 2008-2009 of 75, 37 and 55%, respectively--while dairy decreased by 14%. Global food and drink products with added fiber increased 8% from 2008-2009, with notable activity in meal and meal centers, which increased 173%. This movement illustrates the growth in consumer awareness of the benefits of fiber and probiotics: Mintel reports 85% of Americans believe probiotics improve digestive health, and 69% report consuming fiber for digestive health. In the U.S., Litehouse has launched Yogurt Ranch Dressing with Kefir. The inclusion of kefir is new to the market. Kefir milk is different from yogurt; it contains different strains of “friendly bacteria” and is considered easier to digest. The calcium-enriched dressing contains eight probiotic kefir cultures, which claim to improve the body’s immune system and resistance to disease; regulate cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar; and improve liver and gallbladder function. Another product launch with unexpected digestive health benefits is Gullon Diet Fibra’s Fiber Chocolate Cookies. Launched in Mexico, these cookies contain 9g of fiber and are cholesterol-free.

Information in this column is from the Global New Products Database, the premier source of global product intelligence, published by Mintel International Group; 351 W. Hubbard, 8th Floor; Chicago, IL 60610; call: 312-932-0600; fax: 312-932-0474; or e-mail