Sterling-Rice Group (SRG) released its annual trends report capturing what is new and emerging in natural and organic foods. This year, SRG's Natural Nine takes an in-depth look at product innovations driving a current "megatrend" in the natural and organic products industry: Probiotics.

At least three factors are contributing toward rapid growth in probiotic offerings: consumers' continued interest in foods and beverages with optimal nutritional benefits; heightened and growing awareness of the correlation between digestive health and overall health; and new science driving shelf-stable snacking innovations and reinforcing product claims.

While conclusive research on the efficacy and human health benefits of probiotics is still years away, the US probiotics segment is expected to continue to grow at double-digit rates annually. The total US market should exceed $3 billion by 2020, according to the 2017 NEXT Forecast, a joint research publication from SRG and New Hope Network.

As part of its report, SRG identified the top nine product innovations in the probiotic space:

  • Coco"NUTS" for Probiotics: While beverages are a popular way to get a daily dose of probiotics, an interesting take on the category uses the whole coconut – water and meat – in a refreshing and impressive blend of natural-live and active-natural cultures.
  • CFU Snackin': A tasty way for consumers to curb snack attacks and work probiotics into their day, this shelf-stable snack provides a health-focused alternative to traditional chips. 
  • Alive and Kick'n: Traveling across the snack aisle, Sriracha makes its latest debut in the probiotic space. With new live Sriracha in green and red, the revered chili sauce is truly everywhere these days.
  • Popped Probiotics: Take a popular snack option, flavor with a globally inspired seasoning such as tandoori turmeric, add probiotics (and adaptogens) and you have one of the most buzz-worthy products hitting the market. 
  • From Fridge to Freezer: One of the first probiotics to leap from the dairy case to the dessert freezer case, this new product not only satisfies consumers' ice cream fix, but provides a protein and probiotic punch, too.
  • Dose and Drink: New packaging technology allows consumers to activate prebiotic and probiotics with the simple push of the finger. Probiotic beverages are no longer chained to the refrigerator – simply shake and drink.
  • A New Morning Ritual: This probiotic pioneer continues to innovate with a strain shown to help with gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain and bloating as it relates to IBS.
  • Chew on This: Your digestive system begins in your mouth, so probiotics have a place there, too. This new probiotic gum aims to improve oral health.
  • Probiotic Pores: This use of probiotics is taking it to a new level – skin deep – with the introduction of probiotic personal care products.

"While the probiotic category has been hot for several years, we are now seeing the right confluence of consumer awareness, R&D, and category investment to drive unprecedented growth," said Liz Moskow, Culinary Director for SRG. "Given the sheer number of new products introduced over the past 12 months, consumers and manufacturers alike are clearly optimistic about the potential of probiotics."

SRG's Natural Nine is assembled by the SRG Culinary Team after year-long explorations tracking new product introductions at a variety of food industry tradeshows, via the firm's in-house data analytics, and from interviews with leading probiotic product companies. 

Learn more about SRG's 2017 Natural Nine.