By now, most people have heard of probiotics—those friendly gut microbes that promote health and well-being. Less well-known are prebiotics—the types of fibers, often soluble fibers, that stimulate the growth of probiotics. However, according to NutraIngredients-USA, the market for prebiotic foods, beverages, supplements, and animal feeds is on the rise and is already valued at $3 billion. While probiotics’ market value dwarfs that figure—probiotics account for approximately $34 billion in yearly sales—prebiotics are poised to experience double-digit growth, whereas probiotics are only projected to grow by around 8%.
Common prebiotics include fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), and xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS). In the near future, consumers should expect to see new types of prebiotic fibers, greater distinctions between dietary fibers and prebiotic fibers, more research on the actions and health benefits of prebiotics, and combined probiotic/prebiotic products.