Demand for digestive health products is on the rise in the EU, driven by growing consumer awareness, a new report has suggested.

According to Frost & Sullivan, digestive health products represent the largest segment of the total EU functional food market, accounting for 68% of sales.

Rising product prices, coupled with the extension of application areas, will continue to enhance market prospects, the research group suggested in its analysts, EU Digestive Health Ingredients Market.

With revenues of US$245m in 2008, the digestive health market in the EU is expected to grow to $536.5m by 2015, the researchers predicted.

"The European market for digestive health ingredients is at the growth stage and new product launches are frequent and numerous," Frost & Sullivan analyst Sridhar Gajendran said.

"Products for digestive health are available in both the functional foods and the dietary supplement segments, with the former having a relatively larger share in terms of both volume and value in 2008."

Currently, functional foods for digestive health are available as dairy products, fortified beverages, baked foods, cereals and convenience foods. This category is poised for healthy growth in the coming years, primarily due to its significant potential to penetrate different application sectors, Frost & Sullivan claimed.

Despite cutbacks in consumer spending due to the recession, Gajendran said that the digestive health market was relatively protected from this due to consumer desire to offset rising healthcare costs.