Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer interest in functional beverages that support health and immunity is higher than ever before. Probiotic and prebiotic drinks in particular have seen explosive growth in the market as consumers look for beverages that support digestive health.
According to a January 2022 report published by Research Drive, the global probiotics drinks market is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of 8.5% between 2021 and 2028. When it comes to this segment of the beverage market, consumers now have more options than ever. Some of the new, innovative drinks currently on the market include plant-based probiotics, seltzers, sodas, powdered kombucha and new kefir water products.
While dairy-based probiotics made up the largest share of the global probiotic drinks market in 2020, plant-based probiotics are now becoming popular with consumers as well. According to Market Watch, the plant-based probiotic drinks segment is projected to have the fastest revenue growth rate of the probiotic drink market between 2018 and 2028. Products such as plant-based oat drinks from Mshrm Oat and organic plant-based probiotic shakes from Kate Farms have come onto the scene this year. The ingredients and benefits of these drinks range from probiotic cultures and beta-glucans to promote heart health to a blend of plant protein, prebiotic fiber and carbohydrates to help consumers manage their blood sugar.
Seltzer and Soda Probiotics
As consumers who grew up drinking soda search for a healthier alternative that still provides them with that hint of nostalgia, functional carbonated beverages are finding a strong footing in the beverage market. According to SPINS, a wellness-focused data technology company, “Functional carbonated beverages offering prebiotics to improve digestion are some of the top contributors to this ingredient’s growing popularity.” Popular seltzer brands Olipop and Poppi are just two examples of fizzy, functional seltzers that promote digestive health through probiotics. These functional soda brands have captured consumers’ attention through their fun, fresh marketing and their promise of a soda that’s actually healthy for you.
Kombucha and Kefir Water
Kombucha and kefir water are two of the original players in the probiotic beverage space. And although kombucha and kefir water haven’t seen the explosive growth that functional sodas and plant-based probiotic beverages have had in the past three years, they aren’t going away anytime soon. Kombucha sales have seen mild, stable growth throughout the pandemic and kombucha companies have started to get creative with formats as a way of drawing in new customers. One new format gaining traction is powdered kombucha. Powdered kombucha provides new benefits and convenience to consumers, such as its shelf-stability and easy transportation. As for kefir water, the pandemic has spurred the industry to branch out – developing product lines for kids, experimenting with frozen kefir products and even oat milk and coconut water dairy-free alternatives.
Looking to the Future
Although consumers’ increased interest in functional beverages that support overall health and wellness can be attributed in-part to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the functional beverage market growth shows no sign of slowing after the pandemic ends. Instead, the pandemic seems to have served as a wake-up call to many consumers, spurring them to take an increased interest in functional beverages that support their health. Probiotic and prebiotic drinks account for a large part of this market growth and as this segment of the market continues to expand, we can expect to see more new, innovative probiotic drink types and formats hitting the shelves.