Digestive and gut health remains one of the most popular active health positioning claims, according to global new product launch activity tracked by Innova Market Insights. Although the overall percentage of new products with digestive health claims declined last year—from 33% reported in 2014 to 28% in 2015—this category and claim still show up on more than a quarter of all functional new products.

Interestingly, the position with regard to probiotic health claims for digestive health benefits remains unresolved in the US as well as Europe. Meanwhile, there has been a shift toward a more general health and fitness positioning for probiotics and a move away from specific claims in many instances.

Manufacturers are again focusing on established functional ingredients such as fiber, for digestive health benefits. These well-known functional ingredients are increasingly traversing to new market categories with “better-for-you” appeal. Innova Market Insights finds that global product launch activity tracked with an “added fiber” positioning, increased by 49% in 2015 from 2014. This demonstrates that fiber remains a desirable functional attribute for food as well as beverages.

“High fiber” or “source of fiber” claims were used on 4% of global food and drinks launches recorded by Innova Market Insights in 2015, rising to more than 5% in North America and over 10% in Australia/New Zealand, but falling to just 2.5% in Asia.

Fiber claims can be associated with many types of food and drinks products, but nearly 70% of global launches featuring this type of positioning were in one of four categories: Cereals, Bakery Products, Snacks and Ready Meals/Prepared Foods. Other categories seeing relatively high levels of activity are Fruit and Vegetables, Sports Nutrition, Baby Foods and Pet Foods, with some interesting product developments also in Soft Drinks and Dairy Products.

Fermented Foods & Probiotics

Some food processes have been around for centuries or even millennia and are in the spotlight. They carry a natural and authentic image that counteracts some of the negative perceptions associated with heavily processed food. Think of fermentation, which has demonstrated increased product launch activity in the soft drinks category.

The health benefits of fermented foods are being purported on an ever increasing level. Westerners are embracing more exotic concepts, such as kombucha, the on-trend tea variant. Consumers also are taking a second look at the health benefits of everything from sourdough bread to sauerkraut.

An analysis of new product launches (July 2015-June 2016) featuring the word “probiotic” found that Dairy (28%), Supplements (27%), Baby & Toddlers (17%) and Soft Drinks (7%) dominated in terms of launches. In terms of regions using the word “probiotic,” North America (43%) led, ahead of Asia (18%) and Latin America (16%). Since the word “probiotic” is no longer allowed in the EU, West Europe accounted for just 9% of these launches.

Prepared Foods’ monthly “Form+Function” showcase has included several new probiotic entries—ranging from Vega’s new on-the-go powders and Wellements Probiotic Gripe Water to PepsiCo’s new line of Tropicana Essentials Probiotics juices.

Still more new products abound. This fall also saw Nestlé Health Science introduce ProNourish, a nutritional drink formulated for people with digestive sensitivities to Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols (FODMAPs). Elsewhere, Gerber (another Nestlé company) introduced a line of infant formulas with probiotics, making it the only brand to offer probiotics in all milk-based powder formulas.


Immune health benefits are a popular health platform for supplements, being the second most popular positioning behind health/wellness for supplements product launches tracked in 2015 by Innova Market Insights. As far as food and beverages are concerned, new global product launches tracked with an immune health positioning stabilized in 2015, after a period of good growth.

Innova Market Insights’ data show the leading market categories worldwide with immunity claims in 2015 were: Baby Formula/Milk (27%), Sports Powders (12%), Baby Cereals & Biscuits (8%), Juice & Juice Drinks (7%) and Tea (5%).

Leading ingredients used in product formulations associated with immunity claims include vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin B12 and copper.

A supplier’s proprietary yeast beta 1,3/1,6 glucan is featured in new ON Gold Standard BCAA Train + Recover, a new line of intra-workout drink mixes from Optimum Nutrition Inc.; and OLLY Kids Mighty Immunity, one of several new kids gummies from OLLY Benefit Corp.

Optimum Nutrition and the supplier point to new research that suggests immune system support is critical during recovery for marathoners, cyclists and others who endure high physical stress. A proactive functional ingredient approach not only helps maintain overall physical health but also reduce incidence of upper respiratory tract infection.  

2017 Ingredients for Health Guide Categories:


Antioxidants for Health

Bone, Joint & Cosmetic Health

Cardiovascular Health

Cognitive Health

Diabetes & Blood Glucose Control

Digestive Health

Eye Health

Sports & Energy

Weight Management

Originally appeared in the December, 2016 issue of Prepared Foods as It's Gut Check Time.