Dr. Luigi Gratton, MD, Herbalife’s vice president of nutrition education and development, said the product, called Simply Probiotic, marks a new era for the company in terms of opening up a gut health condition category with a product that has strong claims.
“We had others proprietary. In the past we’ve had something called Flora Fiber, but the claims were not very strong on that product,” Gratton told NutraIngredients-USA.
Big market for new product
The new product, which is packaged as a sachet containing 1 billion CFUs of Ganeden’s proprietary strain of Bacillus coagulans, is meant to be offered as something to mix in to the company’s best selling product, its Formula 1 meal replacement shake, as well as to be added to its tea and aloe beverages. Gratton said just those three products alone make up a huge potential market for the new product.
“At Herbalife we have annual sales in the $4.5 billion to $5 billion range,” he said. “Those three products make up more than half our overall annual revenue.”
Gratton said that finding a product with the right stability profile was a key to the product concept. Ganeden’s BC30, as a spore-forming organism has the advantage o fiery specific germination criteria, which means that it can be mixed easily into a variety of beverages and foods such as hot, cold or frozen foods and beverages. And Ganeden had the advantage of room temperature shelf stability, which matches well with the constraints of Herbalife’s multi level marketing distribution model.
“We’ve never had a refrigerated product,” Gratton said. “There was a hesitation to get into probiotics, especially in North America, because there were so many refrigerated products with strong claims already in the market.”
Gratton said he believes the product, which was launched simultaneously last week in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico, can eventually become one Herbalife’s best selling offerings world wide.
“A top-10 product for us is more than $100 million in sales in a year. It may take a few years for this product to get there,” he said.
Clinical data, regulatory approvals helped
Mike Bush, president of Ganeden, said the clinical work his company has done on its particular strain to back up its claims was a big selling point for Herbalife, which as world’s largest network marketing company focused exclusively on nutrition has absorbed its share of criticism over the years. Herbalife now operates in more than 90 countries, and the work Ganeden has done on the international regulatory front was a selling point, too, Bush said.
“They had to make sure that they had something that had good clinical data. They needed something that has been proven to be safe and effective. And we have so many international approvals and that helped. I think we have formal approvals now in 61 countries, and we know that products containing BC30 have been shipped to 70 countries,” Bush said.
Gratton said Ganeden’s reputation had preceded it as Herbalife launched into the product development process. Some of the company’s senior distributors, those who have the boots-on-the-ground knowledge of what works at the consumer level, form part of the company’s development team.
“We bring in a lot of high level distributors who have a lot of experience in the market. Our distributors love to have first-to-market type of products, and they were very aware that Ganeden had already placed their probiotic in a lot of food products out in the marketplace,” he said.