Convinced that the principal growth area for dairy lies in nutraceuticals and that value-added functional foods will shift from a premium niche to a mainstream category, Irish dairy giant Glanbia is investing heavily in technological innovation, reports FunctionalFood Wire.
The demand for functional food - foods with enhanced health properties or nutritional benefits - mushroomed during the 1990s to the extent that Irish consumers now look for a healthy option in virtually every food category, according to Glanbia.
The British market is currently populated by the likes of Danone, Yakult, Campina and Mueller offering yoghurts, probiotics and functional beverages.
Last September, Glanbia (formerly Avonmore Waterford Group) introduced Petits Filous + Calcium cheese for children, with calcium from milk as well as phosphorus and magnesium. The company then launched Everybody, a new Irish health-oriented yoghurt drink marketed under the Yoplait brand, which is reportedly the first food product available in Ireland to contain Lactobacillus Gorbach Goldin (LGG), the world's most clinically researched probiotic culture.
The Irish dairy and dairy ingredients group Glanbia claims that the 12 essential vitamins (A, C, D, E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, B-6, B-12, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid) and three minerals (calcium, zinc, phosphorus) are present in each Yoplait serving.
Like other Yoplait products, Everybody is produced at the Glanbia Foods plant at Inch, County Wexford. During the launch phase in the region 300,000 consumers will experience Everybody from Yoplait through nationwide sampling and couponing.
Brian Reid, marketing director of Yoplait, said: "The experimental marketing element is the first stage in a multi- layered promotional campaign to make Everybody from Yoplait the first choice for every consumer seeking a tasty and health enhancing yoghurt drink."
In January, Glanbia announced that it had started a major lactoferrin expansion in its whey processing facilities in Idaho, United States. The company has said in the past that it is building on its current lactoferrin production base, which has been in existence since 1997, to respond to the increasing global demand for bioactive ingredients. Strong demand from the global nutraceutical sector for natural, anti-microbial and immune enhancing ingredients is the major driving force for the expansion.