• functional food;
  • probiotics;
  • prebiotics;
  • synbiotics


Owing to their health benefits, probiotics and prebiotics are nowadays widely used in yogurts and fermented milks, which are leader products of functional foods worldwide. The world market for functional foods has grown rapidly in the last three decades, with an estimated size in 2003 of ca US$ 33 billion, while the European market estimation exceeded US$ 2 billion in the same year. However, the production of probiotics and prebiotics at industrial scale faces several challenges, including the search for economical and abundant raw materials for prebiotic production, the low-cost production of probiotics and the improvement of probiotic viability after storage or during the manufacturing process of the functional food. In this review, functional foods based on probiotics and prebiotics are introduced as a key biotechnological field with tremendous potential for innovation. A concise state of the art addressing the fundamentals and challenges for the development of new probiotic- and prebiotic-based foods is presented, the niches for future research being clearly identified and discussed. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry