The two companies signed an agreement in 2004 establishing a strategic alliance pertaining to projects such as joint ventures in India and Vietnam, exchange programs in research, the foundation of the Global Probiotic Council as well as the organization of scientific symposia. The agreement demonstrates the importance Danone is placing on probiotic research. Friendly bacteria is becoming more and more prevalent in functional foods on mainstream shelves. Probiotic drinks and yoghurts are leading functional food and drink market growth, according to a recent report Datamonitor. This growing popularity of probiotic drinks and yoghurts has led to advertising campaigns such as those for Danone's Activia line. Since Activia yogurt's launch in January 2006, it has surpassed the $100m mark in US retail grocery sales. Based on this success, the dairy giant recently launched three new probiotic-delivering products for the US market: Activia Light nonfat yogurt, DanActive dairy drink and Danimals with Lactobacillus GG( LGG). Among other things, probiotics are hailed for their potential to supporting optimal digestive functioning. The partners say they will be stepping up research cooperation. Under the updated agreement, Danone will maintain its current interest in Yakult Honsha at 20.02 percent up to 2012. Added to the permanent liaison bureau the companies have already set up, Yakult Honsha's board of directors will now also add two more Danone representatives - bringing the number up to four.