BioGaia previously supplied its bacteria to the firm, Lotte Ham & Milk Co, through its partnership with Denmark-based Chr. Hansen. But BioGaia ended the Chr Hansen collaboration in November last year and is now hoping to increase revenue through working directly with dairy manufacturers.
"We are very pleased that we have succeeded in taking over and extending this key agreement, and expect volumes to grow to an extent that will make this one of our most significant dairy agreements within a few years," said Peter Rothschild, managing director of BioGaia.
BioGaia now has four licence partners marketing its probiotic products in the Far East and two partners who are scheduled to launch products in the region this year, revealed Rothschild.
The total nutrition products market in Asia during 2001 was estimated to be worth $37.4 billion. This is growing fast as the region contains China, the world's fastest-growing economy, and Japan, the world's second largest economy. East and Southeast Asia also have the fastest ageing populations in the world, with China and India together expected to have 370 million people aged over 65 by 2030.
Lotte Ham & Milk has an annual turnover of around €4 million and is part of Lotte Group, which has wide-ranging operations in areas such as electronics and IT.
BioGaia's bacteria will be used in yoghurt products, already available on the South Korean market.