The firm said it will launch the same two documented probiotic strains from its Howaru range - Bifido and Rhamnosus - on the supplement market, following the licensing extension. Already, the strains have been snapped up by Young Living Essential Oils, which has applied them in its high-potency probiotic supplement, Life 5, Danisco said. The strains were originally isolated by dairy firm Fonterra and then licensed to Danisco. The Howaru range - a series of target-specific probiotic strains - has grown in strength over the last few years. The fifth addition came in March under the name Howaru Protect, which is specifically aimed at children.
A Danisco spokesperson was not available for further comment on the terms of the licensing agreement, or what countries the supplement will be available in. Probiotic supplements are a growing market in Europe. According to market analysts at Euromonitor, the Italian probiotic supplement market is the largest in Europe - even outstripping America - and it is still ripe for further expansion. Trust in probiotics' ability to boost immune and gut health is driving the market, which opens up new opportunities for companies who want to expand their probiotic supplement range into new countries.
In Italy the market grew from $203m (€143m) to $310m (€219m) in just five years. By contrast North America recorded $293m (€206m) sales. Support Both Bifido and Rhamnosus have had their role in gut health backed up by a wealth of science, Dansico said. Scott Bush, vice-president of Danisco's dairy supplements business unit, said: "Howaru Bifido and Rhamnosus offer our customers a unique competitive advantage as they make it possible to market products with proven benefits.
"Health professionals, regulatory authorities and consumers are increasingly aware that probiotic health benefits are strain-specific. "More and more they require that these benefits be demonstrated in human clinical studies. Yet some probiotic products on the market still contain strains that have little or no documentation of health benefits in human clinical studies. For the Howaru strains, we have such evidence of efficacy." Origins The strains were originally isolated by Fonterra in the late 1990s and in 2001 Fronterra granted marketing and selling rights to Danisco.
Since then, they have been applied in a wide range of applications and with increasing use of human clinical studies to support their efficacy. The strains are not just limited to dairy and supplements, but can also be used in bars, juice, spreads, confectionery products, ice cream and other food applications. Fonterra originally isolated the strains in 1997 and has conducted extensive research into their health benefits, including the first large-scale clinical studies. Last month probiotics made headlines around the world after 24-people died in a Dutch trial which tested the use of the "friendly bacteria" at treating patients with pancreatitis.
Although this trial did not use Danisco probiotics, it did raise questions about using the bacteria on pancreatitis patients. Critics of the trial were keen to point out that the probiotics were used on patients who were already critically ill and were applied intravenously to the gut. The European Food and Feed Cultures Association (EFFCA), which represents manufacturers of probiotic strains, said it will pay "serious attention" to the study and is awaiting the official publication of the findings.
An EFFCA spokesperson at the time said: "All the probiotic strains marketed by EFFCA members have a long history of safe use both in food and dietary supplements and have been assessed in terms of safety studies."