NEW YORK — Innovations that allow the inclusion of probiotics and prebiotics in a wide variety of food and beverage products, and the ingredients’ relation to digestive health and overall wellness are two factors that will drive future growth of the market, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. In the report "Boosting Immunity Through Digestion: The Relation Among Probiotics, Prebiotics and Digestive Enzymes," Packaged Facts estimated the global market for prebiotic/probiotics food and beverages was $15 billion, a 13% increase over 2007.

"Consumers in developed countries are becoming increasingly aware of their ability to treat health concerns and problems with diet," said Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts. "Combined with knowledge that allows consumers to address these concerns without conventional medical involvement is driving interest in nutrition as it relates to digestive health and digestive health as it relates to overall wellness."

Aside from yogurt, categories of food and beverage introductions containing probiotics and/or prebiotics through the first six months of 2009 included milk, functional drinks, breakfast cereals, cheese, and cookies. And though the probiotics category is more established in the digestive health market, the prebiotics sector is growing faster with a presence in an array of products that range from pudding to frozen chicken dinners, according to Packaged Facts.

The report also noted that in conjunction with probiotics, digestive enzymes may be used in foods to address specific concerns such as acid reflux and heartburn. Packaged Facts called digestive enzymes "the new frontier when it comes to digestive health," and said evidence suggests beverages, candy, dried goods, fruit juices, margarine, snack bars and other common foods would serve as good delivery vehicles.