The new products, called Bravo Friscus, come in the form of one-litre 100 per cent apple and orange juices cartons and incorporate two probiotic strains that have been clinically proven to resist colds and flus.
Skåne is backing the Swedish launch with a national campaign that includes television adverts and in-store messaging and sampling.
Fellow Swedish biotech firm, Probi, is the supplier of the Lactobacillus plantarum HEAL9 and Lactobacillus paracasei 8700:2 strains to be used in the products at a level of about 1bn colony forming units (CFUs) per 250ml.
It sells at about €2.50 per one litre carton – a 50 per cent mark-up over regular Bravo juices.
“This is a world first and is the result of 5-7 years of research and development,” Probi chief executive officer, Michael Oredsson, told NutraIngredients.com this morning.
“The products is being sold on its ability to fight colds and there has been a high level of interest with the winter season coming on. We plan to move into other Nordic countries.”
Formulation difficulties arose due to the total juice environment, which added to the development cost and time. The addition of minute amounts of other juices was found to be one way to keep the probiotic strains active for longer, said Johan Wahlqvist, director of marketing and sales in Functional Foods.
Probi and Skåne have teamed up before on Proviva, but that product is only 40 per cent juice and is marketed on gut health benefits. A similar product, called Goodbelly, is on-market in the US.
Oredsson said the two companies followed guidelines they had weened from various working groups that mediated between industry and national and EU regulators when deciding on the wording of the product claim.
The on-label product claim reads: “Helps support your natural defences.”
“It is not making a strong claim,” said Oredsson. “We are preparing a dossier to submit to the EU health claims process that may allow other claims but in the meantime we will use this claim.”
Bravo Friscus has mainstream supermarket distribution.
Wahlqvist said consumer sampling indicated they were prepared to pay a 50 per cent premium if the product proved to be efficacious.
One of the studies backing the strains used in the product included 310 subjects, of whom 70 per cent were shown to have a ‘good’ or ‘very good’ effect when assessed by doctors for 13 cold and flu-related symptoms.
However Finnish dairy, Valio, disputed the claim by Skåne that it was the world's first probiotic 100 per cent juice, noting it had a product called Gefilus on the market since 1997. Gefilus was once marketed on digestive health benefits but now makes broad immunity claims.
Arla Ingman Oy Ab has has a 100 per cent BioGaia-supplied probiotic juice under the Rela brand on-market in Finland since 1999, but employing a soft immunity and nothing as specific as cold-fighting.