Could Switzerland be a Marker for the Influence of Health Claims?

There has been great controversy in the EU over the removal of health claims relating to probiotics since they failed to gain a single claim from the 224 Article 13.1 general health claims which came into effect in December 2012. However, the question remained whether this would have a negative impact on sales of certain products, and in particular yoghurt, the most widely consumed product containing probiotics. To answer that, Euromonitor International suggests using Switzerland with a permitted health claim for Activia as a marker.

Danone’s Activia secures a digestive health claim in Switzerland

Danone has been permitted to use the claim “Activia contributes to digestive comfort by reducing transit time and bloating” following the presentation of results from a number of randomised, double-blind studies which showed the Activia strain B. animalis CNCM-I_2494 provided a recognisable health benefit in healthy adults when they consumed two 125g portions a day.

Switzerland, although not in the EU, has similar packaged food buying habits to its European neighbours. So, the decision by Switzerland’s Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) to grant Danone a claim for Activia pertaining to digestive health benefits could indicate the potential effect of health claims on product sales.

Forecast Annual Growth of Pro/Pre Biotic Yoghurt Retail Sales in Switzerland, France and Germany, 2013-2017

Forecast annual growth of pro and prebiotic yoghurt retail sales in Switzerland France and Germany

Source: Euromonitor International

Note:  EU* only includes data for the 20 EU countries covered by Euromonitor International’s health and wellness research 

EU pro/pre biotic yoghurt forecast to remain in decline

Pro/pre biotic yoghurt in the 20 EU countries researched by Euromonitor International’s health and wellness system historically saw strong constant value annual growth and significantly outpaced non-pro/pre biotic yoghurt. The latter has recovered from tight consumer spending after the onset of the recession, but pro/pre biotic yoghurt is set to remain in decline over 2012-2017. The category’s predicted value CAGR decline of 0.6% in the EU is in part due to the concerns of industry players over the implications of Article 13.1.

Using Switzerland as a marker

Swiss demand for pro/pre biotic yoghurt, however, is set to remain positive over the 2012-2017 forecast period, with the category anticipated annual growth of near to 1%, which will be stronger than that of its neighbours France and Germany. This suggests that consumers in Switzerland may be less likely to move away from pro/pre biotic yoghurt than their neighbours. If this growth continues over 2013 it will become clearer that there is a correlation between the removal of health claims and a decline in sales. If manufacturers of pro/pre biotic yoghurt are therefore concerned about the effects of these Article 13.1 health claims they should look to see how other EU countries compare to Switzerland in the near future.