Probiotics are thought to ease digestion, thereby improving overall health. Prebiotics are dietary fibers that promote the health and growth of probiotics already in the digestive system.
"It came down to delivering good health while also delivering good taste," said Kraft spokesman Basil Maglaris, adding that 60 million to 70 million consumers have digestive problems and four in five women experience irregularity.
Two varieties of LiveActive cereal, mixed-berry crunch and nut-harvest crunch, are being manufactured under the Post brand. New owner Ralcorp Holdings will have 90 days to decide whether to license the new properties from Kraft. The LiveActive drink mixes, mixed berry and raspberry peach, are made under the Crystal Light brand. The products will be available nationwide Jan. 8.
Kraft, best known for Oreos, cheese singles, and macaroni and cheese, has been branching out in the better-for-you category. Kraft recently rebranded its South Beach Diet line as South Beach Living. Those products still comprise a pretty paltry percentage of Kraft's overall sales.
Kraft launched LiveActive cottage cheese in March, and hard cheeses followed in September. In the first three months, according to IRI, the cheeses rang up about $10 million in sales in outlets excluding Wal-Mart.
"LiveActive prebiotic and probiotic cheeses are off to a good start," Kraft Chief Financial Officer Tim McLevish said in a recent earnings call. So far, LiveActive cottage cheese has captured a 1.6% share of the cottage-cheese market, and LiveActive natural cheese has a 2.6% share of the natural-cheese snacking category, he said.
The company will support the release with work from its LiveActive agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' DraftFCB. The biggest hurdle will be education. "Probiotics and prebiotics are a new concept for Americans," Mr. Maglaris said.
The "good bacteria" can be beneficial to people suffering from chronic digestive problems, sometimes relieving the need for a daily pill, said Christine Gerbstadt, a doctor and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. But probiotics can be beneficial to everyone else as well.
"It's helpful in maintaining normal digestion," she said. "It also helps to promote healthy vitamin and mineral absorption."
Kraft plans to lean heavily on its microsite, where users can "join the movement" and do a "gut check" to determine whether they're getting enough fiber and drinking enough water and what that means for overall health.