Fruitflow discussions hit delay but Provexis still confident
tomato-based bioactive by a major global food company into 2007, as
it continues to tweak the technology platform to make it suitable
for a spectrum of food products.
The UK nutraceutical company entered into a 12-month exclusivity agreement with the major player, the identity of which has not yet been made public, in July. The two parties had at that time already begun developing a second-generation version of the ingredient, which is based on compounds contained in the clear fraction of tomatoes that inhibit blood platelet aggregation, thereby smoothing blood flow and helping to maintain healthy circulation and heart.
The delay was described by Provexos CEO Steven Moon as "disappointing", but he said: "It is important to optimise the technical platform in order to maximise the future potential revenues from our patented and proven Fruitflow technology."
The original Fruitflow is a thick, sugary syrup - ideal for juice drinks such as the model product Sirco, currently sold in the UK, but with a strong flavour and colour that makes it unsuitable for dairy and other foods. To overcome this, a way to extract the sugar was devised, making the bioactive into a powder that is 35 per cent more concentrated so it can be used in several more application areas.
The potential applications for the technology have been carved up into four areas. It is envisaged that the unnamed company would have the rights to one of these: all food and beverage uses with the exception of juice and juice drinks.
Moon said last week that the company remains "wholly committed" to the venture, and that a joint product development team is working on reaching a successful conclusion.
The second area of use has already been brought to market in the form of Sirco, developed and marketed under Provexis' own steam. Juice and juice drink uses are available for licensing to a third party.
The third area is in prevention of deep vein thrombosis, an area in which recent studies have indicated it is effective and in which a patent has been filed.
Finally, there has been some interest in using the technology for dietary supplements and over-the-counter medicinal products.
The Sirco model has been seen as instrumental in bringing about the food deal. Even though platelet aggregation is one of the three major components of heart health, it is not an area that has had a product marketed for it before.
Yet Moon said that Sirco "has performed on a like-for-like basis with other heart health products".
Last week there was also some good news to counter Provexis' disappointment of the extended discussions: distribution in 283 Asda outlets as of November 13.
Sirco has also recently launched in 110 Julian Graves high street stores. It has been sold in Waitrose and Tesco since the beginning of 2006, but was withdrawn from Sainsbury's shortly after its introduction due to reorganisation of the chilled drinks division.