This the observation made by Factors Group Managing Director Asia Pacific Evan Hayes, speaking to the crowd at our recent Growth Asia Summit 2022 event in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
“Probiotics still remains one of the newest health categories out there and there are still many barriers and hurdles that the industry needs to overcome, from consumer awareness to product innovation, research, IPs and so on – but even now, we are seeing the category developing beyond the gut health category it was most commonly envisioned for originally,” Hayes said.
“Over the past 10 years, research has grown in multiple different directions and we are seeing many different categories of biotics emerge, from next-generation probiotics to postbiotics to synbiotics and many more.
“It has become increasingly clear that looking solely at probiotics means that we are not utilising the whole set of tools available to us in the space, which not only includes prebiotics and probiotics but these other adjacent fields.”
Some of the areas highlighted by Hayes included synbiotics – a combination of prebiotics and probiotics to either confer individual benefits from each or a new independent benefit from the combo; postbiotics – metabolites produced by the microorganisms that can accentuate new probiotic functionalities; and also other types of strategic combinations that can boost the health impacts.
“Strategic combination options such as scobiotics, which are syntrophic mixed cultures of bacteria, fungi and yeasts tailored for different health effects, are very a very promising development direction in this sector,” he said.
He also highlighted the firm’s ‘Scobiotics’ range.
“Scobiotics can act by providing direct effects such as colonising the gut, producing necessary inhibitory compounds such as certain short chain fatty acids, producing substrates to increase beneficial microbes and immune responses; or via more indirect measures such as inhibiting pathogen attachment, reinforcing the gut barrier, reducing gut inflammation and so on.
“For instance, we’ve seen products such as Biome Clear which is a scobiotic for detoxification support help to reverse the effects of dysbiosis, to help with issues such as finding surface level proteins for heavy metal elimination or those overproducing polysaccharides that decrease the elimination process.
Another expected future direction for the sector lies in tailored, personalised solutions, which will feature probiotics/postbiotics/synbiotics/etc. being designed and developed for consumers based on their individual needs.
“We see that one thing that will become increasingly relevant is for probiotics to be getting increasingly personal,” said Hayes.
“The vision is that there will be a diagnostic of some sort to see what a good microbiome would look like for the consumer, then brands will work backwards to fill in the gaps with what they need in terms of biotics to maximise the desirable and dial down the undesirable.
“So yes, the future looks likely be tailored based on applications required, and will use a host of things to meet the functions and benefits needed apart from just bacteria.”
More than general beneficial bacteria
Looking closer at the area beyond bacteria, Hayes also highlighted yeast as a rising area of interest in the space, believed to be able to confer microbiome benefits in a different way.
“More and more firms are looking at yeast as a good potential addition to their portfolio,” he said.
“There’s been a real rise in interest in this area, as it can be a source of beneficial components for the body, especially the gut.”
In terms of other forms of targeted solutions, there’s also interest in looking at site-specific implementation, such as formulas for the small intestine versus the large intestine, as the former contains fewer bacteria and is more prone to intervention as opposed to the latter so may be more applicable for direct solutions whereas large intestinal interventions might fare better with the use of prebiotics to effect long-term changes.