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 Dairy Products are "Optimal Delivery System" For Probiotics  

By Alyssa Sowerwine, Cheese Market News

The dairy industry is well-positioned to lead innovation in the field of probiotics, but in order to seize the opportunity, the industry must be willing to segment its markets and support a wider range of products and claims, industry leaders say.

These points of discussion were part of a session Monday titled “New Market Opportunities in Gut Health: A Novel Strategy for Functional Synbiotics” during the 2011 International Whey Conference in Chicago. The conference is co-hosted by the American Dairy Products Institute and the European Whey Products Association.

Session speaker Bill King — director of external innovation and technology scouting for DSM Food Specialties USA, San Francisco — notes the “probiotic story” has been good for dairy sales and for the public perception of dairy as a healthy product category.

“However, a number of other market channels are surpassing dairy in terms of sales volume and in meeting diverse customer needs,” he says.

King notes as one example that the supplements market continues to grow rapidly, in part because of its identification of market segments with specific gut health concerns and needs.

“Dairy growth has slowed partly due to a lack of claims, which is partly due to a one-size-fits-all product strategy,” he says. “Generic probiotics are no longer enough — the technology must evolve to meet the diverse needs of a segmented market.”

Industry innovators should be looking more to new, higher-value channels with innovation based on novel formulation and delivery, King says.

He notes that innovation opportunities include identifying groups with specific digestive or other gut issues, using new technologies to validate product functionality and looking at targeted benefits for demo groups to allow utilization of the highest added value.

King says market segmentation is needed for science-based solutions and breaks targeted market segments into three potential groups:

• Chronic conditions: This group would include those with dairy intolerances; irritable bowel syndrome; gluten intolerance and Celiac’s disease; colitis/ Crohn’s disease; kidney, dialysis and cancer patients; and metabolic syndrome and obesity.

• Stage of life: This group consists of infants (formula-fed/high risk), the elderly (those with gut senescence) and women going through menopause with irritable bowel syndrome conditions.

• Transient risk factors: This group would include schools, teams and institutions, including military deployments, pre-schools and daycare; and those with common individual risks, such as foodborne infections, antibiotic therapy or traveler’s diarrhea.

Regarding chronic conditions, King notes that any future probiotic or synbiotic therapies will require drug approvals, noting that public funding by the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government entities is likely.

He also notes that age-related digestive and gut health issues are increasing.

“Stage-of-life issues are less well-known by the wider population,” King says. “Elderly populations are most aware of their digestive issues, but increasing awareness of infant formula deficiencies also is increasing.”

At the same time, the transient risk factors are common, he adds.

“Foodborne illnesses are a top priority for USDA and FDA, with at least 5 million cases and 125,000 hospitalizations per year for just the diagnosed outbreaks,” he says.

King notes that non-drug probiotic supplements already are being recommended by physicians, but dairy products generally are not considered an option by doctors and others.

He adds that many gut health issues are linked to an imbalance in the microbiome. Metabolic, diet and environmental shocks destabilize microbiome, he notes.

“Restoration of the normal gut microbiome balance is becoming the new target for probiotic developers and marketers, but current generation probiotics have only limited impact on the microbiome as they were not formulated or screened for this function,” he says.

He notes other limitations of first generation probiotics include:

•Wrong selection criteria: Existing strains have little impact as formulated, and most strains were selected for their ability to grow in milk, with only a few available commercially.

• Problems of claims and efficacy: There are high regulatory hurdles for health claims, and first generation technology does not meet the standards. Further, beneficial effects are small and difficult to measure, leaving it up to the consumer to figure out the benefits.

• Generic marketing: Mass marketing “dilutes the value proposition,” and science takes a back seat to marketing. Therefore, dairy loses key segments with specific needs.

King touts abandoning the “one-size-fits-all” strategy and instead aligning product development with market segmentation, with potential targets as age-related, lifestyle and comfort.

The dairy industry is challenged to compete in this market, as supplements are taking over emerging market segments, he notes.

“Supplements are easy to target specific gut health issues, particularly with product naming,” he says. “Distribution also is easy via the Internet and specialty health providers.”

Meanwhile, processed foods are severely limited as delivery systems, as there is less acceptance of live cultures in processed foods and limited ability to deliver high potency and viable strains.

However, this presents some advantages for dairy, King notes. Dairy has the potential to deliver high counts at the point of ingestion, and the potential to deliver more active strains at ingestion.

There is good survival in the upper stomach due to milk buffering and lactose can support growth in the small intestine, he says.

King also notes that dairy prebiotics support growth in the large intestine, offering the possibility of prebiotic/probiotic combos.

Source: Cheese Market News 
 

http://www.cheesemarketnews.com/storypopup.html#two


Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011 (Archive on Thursday, October 06, 2011)
Posted by bsutton@adpi.org  Contributed by bsutton@adpi.org
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