Probiotic BC30 supports plant protein absorption

Why Kerry’s latest clinical research points to new opportunities in India’s unique protein market

By Gunjan Pandey, Marketing Director, Kerry SWA, and

Aanchal A. Kumar, Business Development Manager, Applied Health & Nutrition, Kerry MISA

India’s atypical protein market

As in other parts of the world, consumers in India are increasingly aware of the many benefits of protein, with a 2021 Kerry survey showing that 56% associate it with a healthy diet. [1] Reflecting this, 94% of Indian consumers are willing to pay a higher price for food and beverages fortified with protein, with as many as 19% saying they are willing to pay 25% more. [2]

However, when it comes to where they want their protein to come from, Indian consumers are very different from those in other countries. Plants are a preferred protein source for 76% of people, compared to 46% for animal proteins (significantly below the global average).[3]

According to some estimates, more than a third of Indians are vegetarian[4], and even non-vegetarians consume high levels of plant-based food. More than two fifths of the population (41%) already consume six or more types of plant protein, with meals commonly comprising pulses, salads, lentils or cooked vegetables.[5]

The region’s meat alternative market is also very healthy – it’s currently valued at USD 171 million, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.5% by 2025. [6]

Consumers are turning to probiotics

The other big trend in India (as elsewhere in the world) is a growing demand for functional ingredients for health and wellness. In 2021, Kerry surveyed consumers in India as part of a worldwide research initiative. Seventy-two per cent had bought more dietary supplements since the start of the pandemic, and 67% had increased their purchases of functional or fortified foods and beverages.[7] The survey also explored the reasons for India’s consumers to buy healthy lifestyle products. Unsurprisingly (in light of the pandemic), immune support was the biggest driver, cited by 53% of

respondents. Another clear trend was a growing focus on digestive health, which was the fourth most common reason to buy healthy lifestyle products, up from fifth in 2019. [1]

Reflecting the growing interest in both immune and digestive health, the survey revealed a growing familiarity with probiotics, which commanded awareness levels of 36% – up by 8% since 2019. [2] And among consumers who were aware of probiotics, around 50% were also using them.[3]

Probiotics for protein absorption

Consumers are most likely to associate probiotics with immune system support and digestive health. [4] However, there is a growing body of scientific evidence for their benefits in another area – protein absorption. In 2020, researchers found that BC30TM – Kerry’s leading spore-forming probiotic – could increase amino acid absorption from a milk protein concentrate. [5]

And this year, a human clinical study found that it also improves protein absorption from plant-based nutritional protein powder. The double-blind randomized study was carried out over a two-week period, with 30 healthy women between the ages of 50 and 70 taking part. Each consumed a daily plant-based beverage containing 20g of protein, sourced from a combination of pea and rice proteins, either with or without 1 billion CFUs (colony-forming units) of BC30™.

After the final dose, blood samples were analysed for amino acid concentrations. Over the whole course of the measurement period, subjects in the BC30 group showed significantly higher values for total amino acids and total essential amino acids, as well as significantly higher than average levels of certain individual amino acids.

Part of Kerry’s ProActive Health Portfolio and backed by 25 published papers, BC30™ (Bacillus coagulans GBI-30 6086) is a patented probiotic which can be used in a range of food and beverage products.

New opportunities for plant protein products

One of the reasons this study is so exciting is that it demonstrates the potential to create plant-based nutritional protein powder products that appeal to large consumer groups. Vegans and vegetarians (of whom there are hundreds of millions in India) can sometimes struggle to get the protein they need, and could benefit from more efficient absorption to support outcomes such as muscle-building. Meanwhile, older consumers typically require higher protein intake to maintain muscle mass. Given that India has over 100 million people over the age of 60[6], solutions that meet their nutritional needs will be increasingly in demand. Finally, the research highlights potential for products targeting sporty consumers, especially as 51% of Indian consumers say they exercised more regularly in 2020 than in 2019.[1]

With plant protein products increasingly sought by Indian consumers, it’s important for manufacturers to have a positive differentiation for their brands in order to ensure that products stand out from the crowd. The ability to offer the many wellness benefits of probiotics can significantly add to their appeal – and improved protein absorption can now be added to that list.

Scan the QR code to learn how Kerry’s clinically-backed BC30™ can support consumer health across a range of need states:

[1] Kerry Proprietary Consumer Research – The Protein Mindset, 2021, n=499; India.

[2] Kerry Proprietary Consumer Research – The Protein Mindset, 2021, n=499; India.

[3] Kerry Proprietary Consumer Research – The Protein Mindset, 2021, n=499; India.

[4] Corichi, M ‘Eight-in-ten Indians limit meat in their diets, and four-in-ten consider themselves vegetarian’ Pew Research Center, July 8, 2021

[5] Kerry, APAC Consumer Study, 2021

[6] Kerry, APAC Consumer Study, 2021

[7] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2021, Total sample India (n=801)

[8] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2021, Total sample India (n=801)

[9] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2021

[10] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2021

[11] Kerry Global Consumer Survey – Digestive & Immune Health, 2021

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