DuPont opened a $100 million state-of-the-art probiotics fermentation facility in Rochester, New York. The plant will produce probiotics for the food and beverage industries and for dietary supplements, the company said in a release.
DuPont CEO Mark Doyle said it is the largest fermenter in the world dedicated to probiotics production, and the facility "enhances our ability to provide customers and consumers with high-quality, clinically documented strains that will positively impact people’s health now and in the future."
Construction of the fermentation unit was supported by an Upstate Revitalization Initiative Grant of up to $1.5 million provided by Empire State Development. The project was expected to create 48 new jobs and retain an additional 56 others, according to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
It makes sense for DuPont to construct a dedicated probiotics fermentation facility since the company is already producing and marketing a number of specialized probiotic ingredients under the Howaru brand. Operating the largest such plant in the world could give DuPont an advantage in the segment, since it's likely to expand production and allow for more specialized probiotics to enhance health.
Probiotics are a rapidly growing space poised to become even larger. According to the company, more than 16 million U.S. households buy probiotics for a variety of reasons, including digestive and immune health, weight management and improving cognition.
Use of probiotics is expected to significantly grow because of their reputation for relieving digestive issues, boosting the immune system and contributing to the maintenance of balanced gut microbiota, or "good" bacteria. BCC Research has projected the probiotics market will grow to $50 billion globally by 2020 from $32 billion in 2014.
Martin Kullen, DuPont's head of global probiotics research and development, told Food Navigator the industry saw $1.5 billion in U.S. sales alone this past year and is experiencing 5% annual growth. About a third of the probiotics sold in the world today contain DuPont strains, he said.
DuPont is not the only player in this space. CHR Hansen and Ganeden, owned by Kerry, are significant producers, while Conagra makes probiotic supplements under its Culturelle brand. On the food side, probiotics are incorporated in yogurt products from companies including Danone and Chobani, and they're appearing in Kellogg's Special K Nourish line — as well as in tea, coffee, baked goods, ice cream, granola and bars.
Due to the demand, it's likely probiotics will continue to do well in the marketplace, manufacturers will find more uses for them, and more food brands will step up to partner with DuPont and other suppliers to incorporate probiotics in their products. With its new fermenter facility in operation, the company should be well-positioned to respond to demand.