How THT’s probiotics are meeting post-pandemic consumer demands for healthier foods

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5 min read
AUTHOR: Ana Delgado

According to Market and Markets Research, the global probiotics market will reach a value of $61.1B this year and will have a value of approximately $91.1B by 2026. The demand for probiotics has never been greater, which is arguably because they have been proven to help tackle the health issues that consumers are currently caring about the most.

COVID-19 has caused consumers to take a greater interest in their health and how it relates to what we consume. Our interest in gut health in particular has soared, with 1 in 4 global consumers reportedly making it a priority to improve their immunity since the threat of the pandemic emerged. Maintaining good mental health has also emerged as a priority for consumers over the past two years. As part of their session for Food Matters Live, probiotics manufacturer THT will be speaking about how probiotics can help us tackle these aspects of our health and more.

Patrice Antoine, Scientific and Quality Director at THT says: “Lactic acid bacteria may produce different kind of molecules like gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter.

“All of our intestines are coated by a layer of neurons that are connected to the brain. That’s what’s called the brain-gut axis. By producing this molecule like GABA, serotonin and so on, the microbiota have a positive effect on the brain and on the neuronal system and network in the body. These are relatively recent discoveries.”

While the term ‘probiotic’, was introduced to describe healthy active bacteria by German scientist Werner Kollath in 1953, the most well-known story about its discovery lies with the Russian scientist and Nobel Prize winner, Elie Metchnikov from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. Metchnikoff discovered the first lactic acid producing bacteria in 1857. Bacteria discoveries had been made prior to Metchnikoff, but the healthy qualities of their various strains had not yet been proven. By studying the diets of people who lived over 100 in Bulgaria, he noticed that those who were living longer in the Caucasus Mountains were integrating fermented yoghurt into their everyday diets. Within the yoghurt he discovered the probiotic Lactobacillus bulgaricus. Metchnikov proposed that lactic acid producing bacteria in dairy was able to lower the pH level of the colon during digestion, which could help improve human health.

The 20th century saw the rise of probiotics through yoghurts. The physician Carosso created Dannon Milk Products – now Danone – when he produced yoghurt using conventional techniques with pure bacterial cultures. Originally marketing Dannon in France, he founded the first yoghurt factory in the States in 1942. Another invention of probiotic yoghurts was Yakult, which was created by Dr. Minoru Shirota after he found a strain of bacteria that was resistant to gastric and bile acid, which meant it could get to the lower intestine after being consumed through the mouth. Shirota founded Yakult in 1935, stating that he saw it as key for good intestine health and increasing life expectancy.

The benefits of probiotics

Different strains of bacteria have different benefits, meaning no probiotic is the same. Some of their benefits include:

  • Helping to treat gut health, tackling digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and gas
  • Managing weight loss
  • Helping to tackle mental health issues including stress, loneliness, and grief
  • Treating skin problems such as acne, rosacea, eczema
  • Improving blood pressure
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Improving women’s health, such as treating feminine infections
  • Improving immunity

How THT meet the public demand for healthier food products

With the demand for a healthier gut and mind being incredibly important for consumers right now, THT are finding innovative ways to bring their probiotics to the market. As well as putting their freeze-dried probiotic powders into vegetal capsules for immediate consumption, they also work with food distributors who add their probiotics into food products.

Some of these goods include ready-to-market chocolates and gummies. The company is also even working to include probiotic supplements into ice cream, says Constance Clarisse, Sales and Business Developer at THT. “Ice creams have a short shelf life, which works well with the live bacteria,” adds Patrice.

Bringing these probiotics into ‘treat’ foods increases their nutritional value and can encourage more people to consume healthy bacteria.

As part of their session at Food Matters Live next week, THT also plan to discuss how probiotics can be added to other types of food, “mainly for processed foods like sports beverages, or healthy foods like healthy snacks, or protein bars for example,” says Constance.

THT currently sell their probiotics worldwide, across Asia, Chile, North Africa, North America, South America, and Europe.

In the UK, their products are distributed by McCann Food and Health.

About THT

THT was created in 1991 by Professor Thonart from the University of Liège in Wallonia, Belgium. The company produces lactic acid bacteria through fermentation. These bacteria can be used in food for baking and meat produce as well as in probiotic supplement capsules. In 2004, they became part of the international group Puratos, an industrial baking company which aids bakers, pâtissiers and chocolatiers to find the best products and ingredients to improve their products. In 2008 they became part of the biotech branch of Prayon, the Belgian leading company in phosphorous chemistry.

Patrice Antoine spoke on behalf of THT about probiotics at Food Matters Live during the ‘Better-for-You ingredients discovery spotlight’ on 17 November which you can now watch on-demand.

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