26 Jan 2018 --- Probi is seeking to further expand into the functional food space with a newly signed agreement with an as-of-yet unnamed global FMCG company. The partnership relates to the launch of a product containing Probi’s bacteria for gut health in North America. In its year-end report, Probi [which is majority owned by Symrise] notes that a launch in the North American market is planned for the second half of 2019, potentially followed by launches in other territories. The agreement is expected to have a significant impact on future sales and earnings in Probi’s Functional Food business area.
In 2017, net sales in the Functional Food business area amounted to MSEK 34.2 (US$4.3 million), corresponding to 6 percent of total net sales. The company’s functional food business also made further strategic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. A probiotic yoghurt containing Probi’s LP299V was launched in South Korea by Asian food and beverage company Lotte. In Australia, a probiotic sparkling drink filled with Probi Plantarum 6595 for improved digestive function and a strengthened microbiota was launched under the Kréol brand.
The company is continuing to work on gaining regulatory acceptance for its products. In October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) No Objection Letter for Probi’s flagship bacteria LP299V which is the highest food safety status possible for a probiotic in the USA.
LP299V forms the basis for Probi’s unique Probi Digestis and Probi FerroSorb platforms. The GRAS status includes use of the strain in multiple product categories such as fruit, plant-based and dairy-based drinks, as well as dry products such as cereals and bars. The company expects that this will present new business opportunities in additional food & beverage categories.
Moreover, in the fourth quarter of 2017, Probi submitted a new health claim application for its iron uptake product FerroSorb to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The new study was conducted to address the negative opinion on Probi’s previous application for a health claim in Europe related to increased absorption of iron. The motivation for the negative opinion was that the design used in some of the studies could result in a systematic bias. Probi reports that the new study showed that no systematic bias in favor of Probi’s studies can be expected from the design used.
In further news on FerroSorb, the company notes that a new US customer in the dietary supplement area is launching Probi FerroSorb for improved iron absorption. This is the first launch of FerroSorb in the North American market, and the first orders were delivered in December. Probiotic products for women is a high-growth category and Probi received its first purchase order for a new female product to be launched by a major retail brand. These turnkey products are manufactured in the acquired operations in the US.
Probi also secured its first purchase orders for the Probi Select product range in the US, marking delivery on its promise of cross-selling synergies. Probi Select, targeting the mid-tier customer segment, comprises three of Probi’s patent-protected and clinically documented probiotic platforms supporting immune and digestive health.
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