The successful marketing of probiotic yogurt products, such as Activia and Yakult, has raised consumer awareness of digestive health issues, according to market researcher Datamonitor.
In response manufacturers are putting probiotics into more foods, including tomato ketchup and desserts such as ice creams, added Datamonitor. Prebiotics, "the lesser-known cousin of probiotics, are also finding their way into a number of products, including breakfast cereals", it added.
Terms such as Lactobacillus casei immunitas and Lactobacillus casei shirota, which would previously have mystified consumers, are now becoming more widely understood, it added.
"The real success of these products has been the way in which consumers have adopted them for a 'daily dosing' routine," said Mark Whalley, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor.
However, he added: "The industry faces a tough challenge in justifying prices at a time when consumers are looking to save pennies." Trust also continues to be an issue for British consumers, with only 27% telling Datamonitor that they firmly believe product claims.
The researcher estimated that just under 10M people suffered from irritable bowel syndrome in 2008, with a predicted increase to 11.5M by 2013. This is helping to fuel the functional foods and drink market, it said.