Swedish probiotics manufacturer Probi is taking its ingredient further into the US market thanks to a new agreement signed with NowFoods for a juice shot.
The probiotic specialist recently secured a deal with Metagenics for use of its Lactobacillus plantarum 299v. Lp299v is Probi's flagship probiotic bacteria - the beneficial properties of which have been protected by patents - which is isolated from healthy colonic mucosa.
After the product is released at the Natural Products Expo East show in Baltimore this week, NextFoods will be making investments in marketing and developing the new LP299v juice shot product line for the coming two years.
The initial product will be rolled out beginning with a test market in Colorado in early 2008. The shots will then be launched in 1,500 natural products and natural food grocery stores, followed by a national launch to US retailers.
"We are quite hopeful that we can progress in the range," Probi president Michael Oredsson told NutraIngredients-USA.
Oredsson said this agreement will bring the product more quickly into mainstream retail channels than Probi's first US deal for use of Lp299v in dietary supplements. The present agreement guarantees Probi $1.5mn between 2008 and 2009 and covers the period up until 2015.
The juice shot format has become a popular format for functional beverages, as it provides optimum convenience to consumers.
"This product has high consumer acceptance," said Oredsson. He added: "Fruit juices are very well accepted as a base for healthy ingredients."
According to Oredsson, following the success of Danone's Actimel, there has been a surge of interest for probiotic ingredients in beverages.
The probiotic shot Actimel is sold to the tune of more than six million bottles a day around the world. The drink was first introduced in Europe in 1994, and later Asia, under the brand name Actimel. Previously only available in test markets in the US, the beverage was launched this year as DanActive throughout the country.
The concept of probiotics has taken a lot longer to catch on in North America, but Danone has been credited with making the notion of friendly bacteria acceptable to consumers here. As a result, other probiotic manufacturers have been able to reap the benefits of the food giant's heavy investment into marketing Activia yoghurt.
Since Activia's launch in January 2006, it has surpassed $100m in retail grocery sales in the US. Dannon cited the global sales of probiotics yogurts and dairy drinks are valued at approximately $10bn and this figure it set to grow.
"The US consumer is beginning to understand the benefits of probiotics and we expect that our products containing Lp299v will be very successful," said Steve Demos, co-founder and chairman of NextFoods.
Probi also has the opportunity to enhance the profile of its ingredient as the deal allows for cobranding on the shot beverage's label.
The manufacturer has been expanding beyond Sweden to international markets over the past 12 months, according to Oredsson. The ingredient has mainly featured in food supplements in Europe, but also in Australia.