Anabio highlights tech to move probiotic beverages out of the fridge

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

“With this technology you could have probiotic water, probiotic cola, probiotic beer,” said AnaBio CEO Aidan Fitzsimon.   Image © Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images
“With this technology you could have probiotic water, probiotic cola, probiotic beer,” said AnaBio CEO Aidan Fitzsimon. Image © Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

Related tags Probiotics microencapsulation Beverages

Ireland’s AnaBio Technologies has launched a range of encapsulated probiotic strains including well-established Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species that can survive temperature stresses associated with UHT processing.

AnaBio is built on work done by founder Sinéad Bleiel, PhD.  Dr Bleiel founded the company in 2011 after studying at the Irish national dairy research center in Moorepark, in Cork. She has also studied at University College Dublin and Michigan State University.

The company has finished construction of a facility outside Cork City in Ireland for its new encapsulated probiotics, which Aidan Fitzsimons, the company’s CEO, says could “really be a game-changer for the beverage market.”

Fitzsimons said the overall beverage sector is worth over $1,000 billion. While consumers love probiotics, the probiotic beverages category is only about $15 billion, he said. This is 1-2% of the overall beverage market, he noted.

Much of this is related to technological restrictions, said Fitzsimons. Most probiotics do not survive heat treatment, which is why most of the probiotic beverages are in the refrigerated section (like Actimel and Yakult). Since they are refrigerated, they don’t fit into the on-the-go lifestyle.

“And that’s where we come in,” said Fitzsimons. “We have technology that could move probiotic beverages out of the fridge.”

The technology is closely guarded, but Fitzsimons noted that it is a protein-based coat around the probiotic that protects the microorganism against moisture. It has been tested under UHT processing conditions: 140 °C for six seconds.

With the technology AnaBio has developed, and its ability to expand probiotics beyond the refrigerated aisles, Fitzsimons says probiotic beverages could be worth “€50 billion in three to five years.”

Factory

“This has taken an awfully long time to develop” he said. “About 10 years to get to this position, and it is supported by enumeration techniques developed with Eurofins using Flow Cytometry to quantify the viable cells.

Anabio has constructed a factory, and is producing product for small companies, with larger companies looking at the technology, said Fitzsimons. “The factory is up and running and ready to go.”

Australia’s Alive is already using the technology in a range of carbonated beverages​, said Fitzsimons.

Competitive landscape

There are other companies that offer heat-stable probiotics, such as the spore formers by the likes of Sabinsa and Kerry, or ‘heat-stable’ Lactobacillus plantarum​ from India’s Triphase Pharmaceuticals.

However, Fitzsimons said that, to the company’s knowledge, “thereare no direct competitors to this​.

“With this technology you could have probiotic water, probiotic cola, probiotic beer,” ​he added.

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