Saturation in Japan’s Prebiotic Market Will Witness a Leisure Growth : Ken Research


Japanese are well aware of the value of incorporating prebiotic and prebiotic ingredients in their daily diet. The prebiotics were first commercialized in Japan 20 years ago with the sales of bifidus factor to enhance the growth of friendly bifido-bacteria in the intestinal tract of humans. Gastrointestinal diseases such as stomach cancer are in the list of leading causes of death in Japan for many years. The decreased consumption of pickled foods has resulted in decline of the death rates due to stomach cancer, gastric and duodenal ulcers in both men and women. To maintain a healthy gastrointestinal system is a major problem for the Japanese because the doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics for various health problems. Various health awareness camps were also organised for Japanese consumers to gain knowledge on need to replenish the bacterial flora in their gut on a regular basis and believe that probiotic bacteria is the best solution anytime.

Many prebiotic products have emerged in the recent years. There were seventy FOSHU (Foods for Specified Health Uses) gut regulation products containing dietary fiber as the main ingredient, and another sixty-one products containing an oligosaccharide to support a gut health. Prebiotic fiber main ingredients are popular indigestible dextrin, psyllium seed husk, polydextrose, partially hydrolyzed guar gum, wheat bran, rafinose, beer yeast fiber, low molecular weight sodium alginate and agar derived fiber. The oligosaccharides such as fructo-oligosaccharide, galacto- oligosaccharide, isomalto-oligosaccharides, lactosucrose and lactulose, coffee bean manno-oligosaccharide in instant coffee claim suitable for improved bowel movement in humans. All these products are labelled with health claims equivalent to suitable for improving the regulation and control of the intestines health.

According to the report, “2017-2022 Japan Probiotics Market Report (Status and Outlook)”, Japanese have been well aware about a certain functional ingredients that could support the growth of friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. Meiji Seika’s fructooligosaccharide and Calpis’ soybean oligosaccharide have long been the leading products. The popular product Oligo CC drink consists of soybean oligosaccharide as the main ingredient. This product claims itself suitable for those who are concerned about their gastrointestinal condition, as it increases intestinal bifidobacteria maintaining a healthy gut.

Out of the entire dairy products yogurt is best product in the prebiotic foods. The Japanese yogurt products market has been growing steadily for more than two decades. The leading players in the yogurt products market are Meiji Dairies, Morinaga Milk Industries and Yakult Honsha. Lactic Acid Bacteria Cultured Beverages by Yakult Honsha have a huge demand in Japan due to the effective products. The growth of the FOSHU lactic acid bacteria products sales has slowed down in the recent years due to saturation. Soy yogurt is new product in the prebiotic category. With new packaging concepts, the younger Japanese generation have showing interest in the prebiotic products. Dairy products, non-dairy products, cereals, baked foods, fermented meat products, and dry food prebiotics are a few prebiotic products available in Japan.

Some companies are initiating encapsulation systems to protect probiotic bacteria as they travel through the gastrointestinal tract. The innovative prebiotic ingredient products are also focussing on the lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity. The probiotics effect on the dietary fiber related to insulin sensitivity and glucose response is also explored in the studies. Moreover, blood sugar control is one of the fastest-growing FOSHU categories, and indigestible dextrin dietary fiber is a major useful ingredient in lifestyle diseases and gastrointestinal health category of products.

The major competitors in the prebiotic market in Japan are DuPont(Danisco), Chr. Hansen, Lallemand, China-Biotics, Nestle, Danone, Probi, BioGaia, Yakult, Novozymes, Valio, Glory Biotech, Ganeden, Morinaga Milk Industry, Sabinsa, Greentech, Bioriginal, Biosearch Life, UAS Laboratories and Synbiotech.

The prebiotics market is rapidly growing in Japan due to the rise in population, urbanization, and increased disposable incomes. All commercial Japanese fiber foods are being or have been tested for prebiotic and prebiotic activity. Hi-Maize is an imported fiber source and starch resistant product sold in Japan because it has prebiotic characteristics. With too many prebiotics and probiotic products the market has become more saturated.  Therefore, Japan’s prebiotic market is estimated to grow slowly until the year 2022.

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Ken Research

Ankur Gupta, Head Marketing & Communications



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