Following the popularity of the Netflix original film, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, some Netflix fans may have noticed a recent rise in consumption of the Korean probiotic favorite, Yakult. However, probiotic beverages have been on grocery shelves for decades and are even considered essential to diets around the world. But what exactly are these beverages and why are they suddenly so popular in mainstream consumption?

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts which can help you maintain overall health, especially where the digestive system is concerned. Even though we often associate bacteria with disease and sickness, the human body needs to possess a balance of both “good” and “bad” bacteria to function normally.

Probiotics are often considered “helpful” bacteria because they keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy, counteracting the “bad” bacteria in your gut. When imbalanced, this “bad” bacteria can cause infections, inflammation, and other issues for your gut. In addition to its general benefit for digestive health, probiotics and probiotic beverages are being integrated into modern medicine to treat conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and gastroenteritis. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have suggested that probiotic therapy can also assist with other health problems, delaying the development of allergies in children, treating and preventing urinary tract infections in women, and more.

That’s why some health-conscious consumers have turned to probiotics in the form of supplements, foods (like yogurt), and various beverages, like kombucha. Currently, dairy-based probiotic drinks make up the leading sector of the probiotics market, followed by fruit-based probiotic drinks.

What does the future look like for Probiotic drinks?

According to a recent report from Mordor Intelligence, the world’s probiotic beverage market is expected to reach $46.09 billion by 2024, with a growth rate of 8.44%. Driven by a rise in health-conscious consumers, especially among the younger generations, probiotic drinks are becoming a force in the functional beverage sector. This steady increase in probiotic consumption can also be attributed to an increased understanding and willingness to accept “good bacteria” as a healthy choice.

While mostly popular in the Asia-Pacific and Northern European markets, probiotic drinks are gaining more traction in North America and are continuously changing what the world is drinking. Who knows, the next hit cocktail might just be a probiotic concoction!

Written on September 11, 2019.