When it comes to buying functional foods with prebiotics, product efficacy and proven claims are the most important consumer purchase motivators. This is according to a new global survey commissioned by the market research company FMCG Gurus, a close strategic partner of BENEO, with 10,000 consumers in 10 countries.

Demand for proven prebiotics
Looking at the expectations of respondents who already buy prebiotics, the research shows that they want products that deliver what they promise and are backed up by science: For three out of four of these consumers, the most important factors when choosing a food or drink containing prebiotics are product efficacy, health claims, and science-based claims. Interestingly, despite the cost-of-living-crisis, the price aspect lags behind these considerations with 55% stating that as an important purchase factor. Having a closer look which specific health claims are in demand, ‘digestive health’ and ‘improved general wellbeing’ (73% each) are among the most relevant for those buying food and drinks containing prebiotics.

Prevention is better than cure
The survey also demonstrates that consumers are shifting towards a ‘disease prevention’ rather than ‘disease cure’ mindset. In fact, almost half (48%) of those buying food and drinks containing prebiotics were not suffering from any symptoms when they first started using them.ii A health-supporting diet is high on the agenda for more and more consumers and in line with this trend, interest in food and drinks that are known to boost health increased significantly in the overall population – from 26% in 2019 to 42% in 2021.iii

Moreover, two thirds of overall respondents now see immune health as the key area for them to address in the coming year and, when it comes to promoting it, three out of four (74%) understand the importance that digestive health plays.i

The survey also indicates that consumers are becoming familiar with prebiotics in general as well as with particular prebiotic ingredients: The survey demonstrates that more than half of respondents (54%) are aware of prebiotics and nearly 1 in 3 of those consumers know ‘chicory root fibre’ and ‘inulin’ are prebiotics, making them the most recognised ingredients.iv

Inulin and oligofructose (short chain inulin) are the only plant-based prebiotics available, and they belong to the very few proven prebiotics according to ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics). In total, more than 150 high quality human intervention studies have been published on chicory root fibre, delivering strong evidence for distinct physiological benefits. Additionally, BENEO’s chicory root fibre inulin has an authorised EU health claim concerning digestive health and regularity support that can be communicated on-pack. In addition, a number of structure and function claims are possible when using BENEO’s chicory root fibres in the United States.

Myriam Snaet, Head of Market Intelligence and Consumer Insights at BENEO, explains: “The fact that reliable claims, backed by science, are top of consumers’ wish list, reinforces the approach we have taken over the past 20 years in supporting scientific prebiotic research for our ingredients. As a result, we are well placed to meet growing consumer demand for provable prebiotics. Also, thanks to our multi-million euro investment programme over recent years, we can comfortably meet increasing demand.”

Michael Hughes, Head of Research and Insight at FMCG Gurus, comments: “The results of our latest consumer survey clearly show that to attract consumers, the focus for manufacturers should be on delivering value for money. Using ingredients that allow for on-pack-claims is important and it enables manufacturers to be successful, even in these tough financial times, with premium positioned products.”

Key applications for BENEO’s chicory root fibres, Orafti® Inulin and Oligofructose, include dairy, cereals, bakery and confectionery, as their addition enables sugar, fat and calorie reduction.