The Probiotics Wholesaler Challenge

The probiotics wholesaler market has grown in popularity due to rising consumer health concerns and lifestyle enhancement. The market is also driven by a growing focus on alternatives for conventional growth promoters such as antibiotics. The use of probiotics as animal feed supplements is especially important in countries where bans on antibiotics have been enacted, as they can improve the intestinal health and zootechnical performance of livestock.

In 2001, an Expert Consultation and a follow-up FAO/WHO Working Group established a definition for probiotics as “live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host.”1 The term has been widely applied in the literature and many products, including mattresses, shampoos, disinfectants, and aftershaves, claim to be probiotic, even though they may not maintain viability at their final destination within the gut.

However, the evidence of probiotic benefits is mixed. In the most successful studies, the health-related outcomes include modulation of the immune system and colonization by specific bacteria. Other benefits have been ascribed to the modulation of gastrointestinal symptoms and alterations in metabolism and lipid homeostasis.

While research is ongoing, the evidence base on probiotics is still small and many questions remain unanswered. In addition to a need for more research, there is an urgency to translate these promising results into practical healthcare applications. The challenge is to understand how best to reframe the role of probiotics and prebiotics in improving public health policy at a country, state/province, or local community level, as well as in individual households.

For example, a recent study compared cost-effectiveness of strategies for preventing or treating Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), finding that probiotics were significantly more effective than placebo, with a higher quality of life and lower ICERs. The authors of this study suggest that probiotics be used to prevent CDI in high-risk groups, and to treat the disease in all individuals with CDI, regardless of their risk status.

Similarly, a probiotic vaccine, based on the probiotic bacterium Bacillus subtilis, could be developed to deliver the vaccine against pneumococcal disease, which causes severe respiratory infections in children. This approach is being studied in clinical trials in the US and Australia.

Probiotics can also be used in combination with existing vaccines to enhance the delivery of certain key infectious diseases. A recent clinical trial of a recombinant cholera vaccine in the Democratic Republic of Congo found that combining the recombinant cholera virus with a probiotic bacterium, B. subtilis, increased the efficacy of the vaccine.

The global probiotics wholesaler market is distributed via a variety of channels, with hypermarkets/supermarkets and pharmacies/drugstores accounting for the largest share of the market in 2021. The online retail channel is expected to witness augmented growth over the forecast period, due to increasing demand for probiotics from consumers. The probiotics industry is also expanding to new categories, such as animal nutrition and consumer packaged goods, with the latter demonstrating healthy growth prospects. This is mainly driven by the need for animal producers to find viable alternatives to conventional growth promoters due to restrictions on the use of antibiotics in food production.