Bérengère Feuz, Marketing Director, Lallemand Health Solutions, France shares with NuFFooDs Spectrum how the Indian market is a highly competitive one with a growing demand for quality probiotics, mainly in the gut health area and to support children’s development.
How did 2020 serve for Lallemand Health Solutions and its services across industries?
In 2020, probiotic demand has increased everywhere as compared to 2019. During the ‘first wave’ in the spring, lockdowns reduced in-store traffic. However, as customers were still looking for natural solutions to support their natural defenses and mental health, they considered probiotic supplement as a priority purchase. Probiotic market was less badly hit than other markets for lesser essential goods. Plus, there was an increasing trend of customers purchasing probiotic online and taking advantage of home deliveries.
64 per cent of global consumers stated that the coronavirus made them more conscious about their immunity and 43 per cent about their mental well-being. 18 per cent of global consumers looked to increase their probiotic intake because of the coronavirus pandemic and 15per cent frequently took more supplements to support immune health. The supplement industry witnessed an increase in sales, especially for supplement with specific claims for immunity, including probiotics. In China, probiotics, which are one of the top five supplements used, have seen their consumption rise by 28 per cent between February and April 2020 and in the US mass market, probiotics sales increased by $5.7 million during the peak week ending March 15. With the higher demand for probiotics to help keep the whole family healthy, we had a range of EXPERT’Biotics such as PROBIOKID, L. helveticus LAFTI L10, B. bifidum Rosell-71 and of UNIQUE’Biotics to offer.
Which key sectors showed demand during these unprecedented times? What innovation have you considered to make the solutions COVID-compliant?
There has been a clear acceleration in sales and market diversification in the psychobiotic sector in the past five years. During this anxiety-inducing pandemic year, this is a segment that has definitely reached a higher peak than expected in the sales forecast. Both the scientific community and customers now have an increased understanding of the brain-gut axis, which has developed over the past years. Seventy per cent of psychobiotic clinical trials were published after 2014, which suggests it is an emerging category. From 2017 to mid-2019, 66 clinical trials targeting the brain-gut axis with probiotics were registered. Moreover, mental health has gained more awareness in recent years as a critical societal issue. We have rebranded mid-2020 CEREBIOME, the most documented psychobiotic in the world with more than a decade of evidence after its first proven effects on the gut-brain-axis.
What were the key challenges and opportunities for Lallemand Health Solutions probiotic solutions? How did you overcome the shortcomings?
We minimized the impact, guaranteed business continuity, and met clients’ needs the whole year through. Managing teams in every market monitored the situation closely and communicated any changes to their employees and clients. Everyone was prepared to adapt plans as the situation evolved and were doing everything possible to minimize business disruption. Our mobilized team carried on delivering probiotics meeting unwavering quality standards clients have always trust. Our production plants are located both in North America and in Europe. This allowed to carry on delivering most products via road transportations within these two continents. For customers in other parts of the world, such as China, we still used air transportations even if this was little more challenging during the COVID-19 global crisis. Nevertheless, shipping abroad without disruptions was always possible, but costs have heavily increased since most of the air companies have drastically reduced their lines. For countries who closed fully their frontiers, delays were occasioned, but in the end, all orders were delivered. India was certainly one of the most challenging territory to serve as frontiers were completely closed. One additional challenge that the global pandemic brought was the cancellation of face-to-face events, conferences, tradeshows. In regular times. Our teams had to adapt and transfer every discussion and meeting online. The B2B marketing and communications also shift to virtual events and online communications. It was the case with the launch of the new strain for Women’s health, ROSELLA (L. plantarum ROSELLA is L. plantarum P17630 (Proge P17630), licensed from PROGE FARM, Italy), a dedicated webinar was developed to present this innovation, as well as a fully digital communication campaign. ROSELLA is a convenient orally administered probiotic shown to support women’s intimate health.
How do you see the probiotics market in India?
Our collaboration with partners in the Indian market dates back to early 2000. Its knowledge of the Indian market and a strong regulatory expertise facilitate the importation of probiotic blends and semi-finished products. The Indian market is a highly competitive one, with a growing demand for quality probiotics, mainly in the gut health area and to support children’s development. Beyond these two predominant health segments, like in many other countries, consumers’ awareness and interest to better understand the numerous benefits of probiotics are rising. India is ranked 6th in terms of number of products available for the online probiotic market. Between January and July 2020, the fastest growth in consumer engagement was recorded for probiotics positioned to support inflammation. Probiotics to support immunity also grew by 492 per cent in this period. Probiotics for women seem to be attracting interest as the number of reviews grew by 430 per cent between January and July 2020.
From the production viewpoint, are you looking at investing in India to set up a facility?
To face growing market demand for quality probiotic dietary food supplements, we have invested in a brand-new bacterial production plant in Mirabel, Canada, in order to double its probiotic bacteria production capacity. This will be the latest addition to the several existing production sites, including a plant equally located in Mirabel, Montreal and Quebec (Canada) and one in Saint-Simon (France). With this considerable investment in a new plant, no other production facility is in the short-terms plans. Using state-of-the-art equipment and production process, the new facility will also comply with the highest quality standards and good manufacturing practices (GMP) guidelines to produce food supplements probiotics. The new 11 000m² production facility is operational since the beginning of 2020.
What will be the way forward in 2021 in terms of expanding solutions and reach?
Our research and development team have acquired a strong know-how in formulating probiotics with additional ingredients related to immune health, such as: vitamin C, vitamin D, etc. They thrive to propose practical, innovative delivery forms and conduct in-house stability studies to monitor the strains and their specific combinations with health ingredients, the performance of packaging and specific temperatures for optimized shelf life. Example of a new combination of interest on the radar is CEREBIOME® and Ashwaganda for their mental health benefits. Lallemand Health Solutions, together with its research and development The Rosell Institute for Microbiome and Probiotics by Lallemand, have an ambitious clinical study program in order to study the human microbiome and how probiotic supplements can be used as a mean to improve or maintain health in specific populations or health segments such as gut health, immune health, mental health, women’s health, oral health, metabolism, skin health and sport. So far, the research team has issued over 330 publications including 160 clinical studies and further studies are ongoing.