Industry Transparency Center (ITC) is a U.S.-based global data, insights and strategy organization that conducts unique consumer research including consumer perceptions and use of health ingredients in foods, beverages and supplements. The research and results are unique in that they focus on key ingredient categories and measure familiarity and consumption of these very specific ingredient categories. ITC can track and index any supplement user set against the ingredients they are familiar with and use, as well as all health concerns they wish to address with supplements.

ITC has been collecting and compiling this research for seven years, and in certain areas, such as the microbiome, gathering insights and behaviors for consumers of probiotics, prebiotics and most recently postbiotics.

Immunity and Beyond

The past five years have seen an explosion in the number of products targeting the microbiome. This has been accelerated by the focus on healthy immune function, especially during COVID. While immunity is not the driver of interest and sales it was a few years ago, it has generated an awareness that the gut microbiome is hugely important, for immunity, digestion and much, much more, including today’s top overall health concerns for supplement users – anything related to stress and mental wellness, including anxiety, sleep, energy and mood. The ITC data clearly shows these concerns are increasing, especially among the younger female demographics. At the same time, willingness to address these concerns with supplements is also increasing.

Immunity itself as a concern is still prevalent, but it has also morphed into a concern that can be described as ‘resilience’. This includes an ability to cope with stressors, manage inflammation, maintain brain and other forms of energy, and yes, maintain a health microbiome – even if consumers don’t exactly know what a microbiome is or how it works. In fact, the term “to have a healthy microbiome” has emerged as a key reason why consumers are taking more probiotics and prebiotics. This connection between the microbiome, its health, functionality, and overall wellness has led consumers to grasp that maintaining the microbiome has a positive impact on inflammation, blood sugar management, stress management, energy generation and even cardiovascular health.

Consumers and ‘Biotic’ Products

When it comes to the label, in all three cases, probiotics, prebiotics as well as postbiotics, in addition to just looking for the word on the label, consumers are seeking combination products – synbiotics – where probiotics are typically combined with prebiotics or vice versa, and even what we’ll call ‘tribiotics’ – where formulators are using probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics.

Consumers are also becoming more discerning, especially younger ones (ITC separates its consumer age ranges into those 18-34, those 35-54 and 55+). This is reflected by them increasingly looking for specific prebiotics like inulin, FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides) or GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). In the realm of probiotics, they are looking for specific species and strains.

The Data Shows…

The ITC supplement user data shows clearly that probiotics have joined the big 5 or 6 established ingredients when it comes to usage and perceived effectiveness. Prebiotics are trailing, but about to move into the top 10. Postbiotics are much less known, but there is a loyal following made up principally of younger males. For all 3 of these ingredient types, sustainability over-indexes compared to many other ingredient categories and the values driving purchase lean towards both quality and values-based seals and certifications.

Food & Beverage Consumers Too

This supplement data is generally matched with that coming from healthy food and beverage consumers. They too recognize the varied benefits of probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics, value a transparent and sustainable supply chain, and are looking in many cases for a total microbiome solution, one that often includes both probiotics and prebiotics.

ITC Data & Insights

ITC data and insights fuel the Global Prebiotic Association and other organizations and partners, help ingredient suppliers work with brands to produce winning products, and ensure those products match consumers’ interests, needs and values.

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