The Reuteri bacteria are already used by a number of dairy firms around the world but Skanemejerier represents a major deal for BioGaia as the dairy firm is already a significant player in the region's functional foods market and abroad.
The company was recently awarded Sweden's (and Europe's) first health claim to support the health benefits of probiotic bacteria, for its probiotic fruit juice ProViva. This drink contains Lactobacillus plantarum 299v (LP299v), licensed from another Swedish probiotics developer, Probi.
BioGaia has seen a number of new licensing deals this year. Swedish food manufacturer Procordia has also recently gained rights to the bacteria and is set to launch probiotic fruit beverages and fruit soups for the retail trade at the beginning of 2004.
The Reuteri bacteria are also available from Max Medica which sells Probiomax Reuteri tablets in natural health stores and Novartis (formerly Semper), selling Reuteri straws together with nutrition solutions for use in hospitals and health care institutions
"We have previously worked with Skanemejerier and it is clear that we have the same view of the market. We believe that together we will be able to develop a very interesting product range with the potential for rapid growth in this market," said Peter Rothschild, managing director of BioGaia.
Rolf Bjerndell, CEO and president of Skanemejerier, added that the agreement is fully in line with the firm's focus on healthier food products.
"We are continuously working to extend our range of health-promoting products and strengthen our position as the leading manufacturer in this segment," he said.
In 2003, the total European probiotics market was estimated to be worth €34.6 million but it is expeted to more than triple, reaching €118.5 million in 2010, according to data from Frost & Sullivan.