Provexis has confirmed an exclusive 12-month agreement with Coca-Cola for use of its tomato-based Fruitflow technology in beverages.
Rumours of such a deal have been circulating in recent months, but Provexis corroborated the arrangement in its interim results for the six months ended September 30, 2007.
"During the period of the agreement the parties will carry out a programme of work including consumer testing, commercial assessment and finalising regulatory approval in a range of territories," stated the company as part of the results. "Subject to positive results in these areas, the parties intend to proceed to a licensing agreement during the period of exclusivity."
The aim of the exclusive technology assessment agreement signed with Coca-Cola is to determine whether or not it is feasible to launch a beverage containing Fruitflow.
So far only used in Provexis' showcase Sirco juice product in the UK, the Fruitflow system is based on compounds contained in the clear fraction of tomatoes that inhibit blood platelet aggregation - thereby supporting circulation and heart health.
The original Fruitflow is a thick, sugary syrup - ideal for juice drinks like Sirco but with a strong flavour and colour that makes it unsuitable for dairy and other foods. An existing agreement with branding giant Unilever is intended to solve this, and Provexis indicated in its interim results that this partnership will be extended by another 12 months.
In addition, Provexis has transferred its assets from the Sirco juice brand to a third party - Multiple Marketing, part of the companies owning Eat Natural cereal bar brand and Sunmagic fruit juices - though it indicated this summer that such a move would not mean a stop to its involvement in the functional beverage market.
According to Provexis, Multiple Marketing intends to relaunch Sirco in 2008 at major retailers. The company specifies this non-exclusive license has been agreed to with Coca-Cola under the umbrella of Provexis' broader international rights to exclusivity.
The heart health category is said to be only going up in sales. Leatherhead Foods predicted last year that sales of heart health foods will rise by about 60 per cent over the 2004-2009 period to reach $5.7bn by 2009.
However, Provexis will also be researching its technology for use for deep vein thrombosis - with human trials to this effect set for 2008 - and will research the technology for use with metabolic syndrome.
As the company pursues health claims in these areas, it suggests further announcements are likely in store.
"We have invested significant effort into identifying potential technology acquisitions for our pipeline and expect to report further progress in the coming weeks," said Provexis CEO Stephen Moon.